Marissa Nichols and Ryan Lufkin were eating lunch one day at Salt Lake City’s Food Truck Thursday at the Gallivan Center, and wondered why ice cream trucks hit the roads in the summer to keep people cool but there were no hot chocolate trucks to keep people warm in the winter. And with that, the concept for Cherry’s Hot Chocolate was born.
“As we started doing the research we realized there just wasn’t anything like this out there on the roads today. We started looking at names and web addresses and realized that we could actually still buy hotchocolatevan.com and hotchocolatetruck.com,” said Ryan Lufkin, co-founder of Cherry’s Hot Chocolate. “With that we knew we were on to something and had found an untapped market niche.”
Nichols and Lufkin bought a used Sprinter van that formerly belonged to a bike shop in Colorado and converted it to be a mobile kitchen, complete with a hot chocolate machine just like you’d find at your favorite ski lodge. They then enlisted the help of local artists to assist with their branding logo design. Well-known Utah graffiti artist Trent Call did the illustration of their endearing “Cherry” character, while Dallas Graham, best known for his Red Fred Project, did their text, logo and van graphics layout.
Looking to round out their product offerings, Nichols began researching confections that might go well with hot chocolate and landed with the most natural complement; marshmallows. Discovering a pre-WWII recipe for the fluffy treats opened the door to a myriad of potential flavor and ingredient combinations.
“It was exciting to realize just how many different types of marshmallows could be created perfectly accompany our hot chocolate,” said Marissa Nichols, co-founder of Cherry’s Hot Chocolate. “We’ve been able to adapt the different flavors we offer to the time of year and the type of event we’re attending. We’ve created maple bacon marshmallows for Salt Lake City’s first Baconfest that we hosted over the summer and we’ve created unique flavors such as lemon meringue and lavender marshmallows that are popular for weddings.
Cherry’s actually began operating in June of 2013 serving their summer menu featuring frozen hot chocolate and limeade at private events and public events at Granary Row, the Gallivan Center and the Downtown Farmer’s Market. With the cold weather, they’re now offering a full winter menu of flavored hot chocolate and artisan marshmallows.
“We’re the only dedicated hot chocolate truck currently operating in the United States,” said Lufkin. “Most food trucks view the summer as their busiest season, but we’re just the opposite. When other trucks decide to stay in for the day when it’s cold that’s when we’re most excited to get out there and warm people up.”
This winter you can find Cherry’s on the corner of South Temple and Main Street for the holiday lights, at the Winter Farmers Market at the Rio Grande Station and at a host of private events throughout the valley.