This is part of a summer series spotlighting NYC’s ice cream parlors and other cold treats specialists.
Walking into Max & Mina’s Ice Cream in Flushing is like taking a mini vacation from everyday life. The eclectic décor combined with the many flavors of ice cream make for a fun and happy escape that is exactly what the co-owning brothers intended.
“People want to be taken away,” co-owner Bruce Becker says. “The goal is vacation, retirement. [The shop] brings you on a journey.”
The destination of that journey is, of course, ice cream. And the origin of that journey was Max, the grandfather of Becker and his brother and co-owner Mark. Max was an organic chemist during his lifetime and Becker says he mostly created things like toothpaste professionally. But he made ice cream as a hobby and would give it to his grandkids.
When Becker was helping his mother clean out Max’s belongings after his death, they found his ice cream recipe book. The brothers kept coming back to that book and finally, in 1997, they opened their own operation. Becker says they’ve developed a whopping 10,000 flavors along the way.
“From the start, we were blending stuff and on the forefront of creating different things,” Becker recalls, mentioning early flavors like horseradish and beer. “At the Fancy Food Show, no one had blends like what we were blending. Now we’re seeing a resurgence of this kind of ice cream making, and it’s amazing.”
He explains that the shop has stopped selling ices and frozen yogurt because they took away from the main attraction. The brothers don’t even sell toppings, as it all detracts from the ice cream.
There’s something for everyone, Becker says. People might come in looking for a regular cookies n’ cream but find Cap’n Crunch cookies n’ cream and discover a new twist on an old favorite. The brothers find inspiration by listening to customers, from shaking up classics — they’re currently serving a traditional butterscotch and an “ooey gooey” butterscotch and Becker says he upgraded caramel brownie by using a dulce de leche base — and using different blends of cereals.
When it comes to the shop, Becker lists cereal boxes, Frisbees, a backward clock, his children’s art, photos of celebrities and other images, as parts of the scene.
The business, owned and run by family, attracts tourists, New Yorkers and regulars who come from all over the tristate area. Pastor Paul Downing makes his way there from Coram on Long Island every Monday.
“It’s the variety of flavors and sheer quality,” Downing says. “My son said it best, even the basic flavors like mint chip are amazing. But then they go over the top. Butterscotch, pralines and cream, French vanilla, pancake strawberry swirl, cookie blackberry, pinot noir chip.”
- Max & Mina’s serves 37 flavors at a time. Twelve are almost always available, including three or four basics like strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and coffee.
- Cap’n Crunch is the shop’s best-selling flavor, along with varieties like Cap’n Crunch cookies n’ cream and Cap’n Crunch brownie.
- Bruce Becker’s favorite flavor creation is Aloha coconut cream praline.
- Max & Mina’s has been featured as an answer in both a Trivial Pursuit anniversary edition as well as on the game show “Hollywood Squares” (Brad Garrett got the question right, Becker notes).
- Max & Mina’s is located at 71-26 Main St. in Flushing. For more info, visit max-minas-ice-cream.business.site.