Under the shadow of a 28-foot-tall milk can, a Little Man Ice Cream employee hands over the shop's two-millionth scoop of ice cream, receiving cheers from those who've come to help celebrate this monumental milestone — and to get some of Little Man's famous ice cream. The shop is known for its wide array of flavors, including instant classics such as French Toast, Salted Oreo and my personal favorite, Space Junkie: raspberry ice cream filled with pieces of fudge and marshmallow swirls. The cobblestone plaza at 2620 16th Street where the shop resides is filled with customers, as is standard when the weather is anything less than arctic, with a line wrapping around the corner of the block.
In addition to the usual frozen splendor found here, on this sunny Father's Day the kiosk's seating area is filled with tents from local artisans selling T-shirts, jewelry and pottery, and there's also a station set up where children can make and decorate Father's Day cards. Behind the aforementioned giant milk can from which Little Man sells its cold treats hangs a sign keeping track of the scoops sold. At the start of the day, the sign read 1,999,500.
What makes this occasion so special is not just that it marks the ice cream shop's success; it also marks the two-millionth scoop of food that Little Man will donate to families in impoverished parts of the world. Since its inception, Little Man has taken part in a program called Scoop for Scoop, which donates a scoop of rice, beans or other essentials to communities in need around the globe for each scoop of ice cream sold. All donated food is purchased from local vendors in to help ensure that the community's economy also gets a boost. The shop's owner, Paul Tamburello, speaks to the crowd about this initiative, saying that "Little Man was built on the belief that business exists to make a difference."
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Tamburello then turns the mic over to representatives from several of Little Man's beneficiaries, such as Hope Shine and Children's Future, who speak about the families they've helped in Ethiopia and Cambodia, respectively. Through these organizations, Little Man does its part to aid communities in need. Tamburello returns to the stage to read off the impressive list of countries to which Little Man has extended a helping hand: Senegal, Gambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Myanmar, Cambodia, Haiti, Uganda, Peru, Palestine and Guatemala.
After Tamburello finishes speaking, ice cream lovers are treated to live bluegrass from local acts, followed by a video depicting the families and communities that Little Man has helped around the world. In addition to continuing to serve some of the best ice cream in Denver, the shop's team is looking forward to its next trip abroad, this time to Nicaragua.
Little Man shows no signs of slowing down in its mission to bring food to those in need all over the globe. It seems certain that sometime in the not-too-distant future, we will be celebrating the three-millionth scoop, to even more fanfare.