Have you ever had a craving for ice cream, but something beyond the chocolate-vanilla-coffee-strawberry variety? Sure, most ice cream stands in the area have more out-of-the-box flavors, like rum raisin or salted caramel or purple cow.
But most stands don’t have basil ice cream with white-chocolate shards. Or oat-cereal ice cream with rainbow marshmallows. Or pumpkin-spice latte ice cream.
So where do you go when you want one of those slightly-off flavors?
Lifelong Dracut resident Zac Turgeon has opened Black Sheep Craft Ice Cream, making small batches of, shall we say, unusual flavors. Black Sheep isn’t an ice cream stand; currently, it’s a space at 172 Merrimack Avenue, behind Command D, that used to house a bakery and where Zac whips up flavor combinations he dreams up.
“I tend to gravitate toward the weird stuff,” says Zac, 37, on his ice cream proclivities.
You can go to Black Sheep’s site at hotplate.com/blacksheepcraft and order pints of whatever three flavors Zac is producing at that time. Every two weeks, he turns over the flavors. Through Sunday, October 15, you can order his first three flavors: Basil (the aforementioned basil ice cream with white-chocolate shards), Letts (pumpkin-spice latte) or Lucky (oat cereal with rainbow marshmallows).
After placing your order, at $11 per pint, Black Sheep has predetermined times to pick it up, for now at Zac’s site, which faces Haverhill Street. As time goes by, Zac plans to have a cart that he can take to different locations around Dracut to make it more convenient for folks to pick up their orders.
Zac knows there are people out there who are willing to try some more offbeat flavors of ice cream.
“Not everyone’s going to like a basil-based ice cream. But someone will,” he says. “You go to Hannaford and look at the ice cream, and there are only so many ways to say, ‘Here’s vanilla with chocolate chips.’ I want to make ice cream you can’t get anywhere else.”
Zac got into making ice cream after graduating with degrees in Applied Biomedical Sciences and Psychology.
“This was 2010 -- not a great time to be looking for a job,” he says. “So I stayed with my security job and worked as an office manager. I started learning how to cook from family and from watching TV. Then one Christmas, a friend got me a small ice cream machine.
“Then, the pandemic hits and no one needs an office manager. So I figured if there’s ever going to be a time to do this, there’s no time like now.”
He bought a bigger ice cream machine and started churning out the frozen treats in his basement.
“The pandemic gave me a forced opportunity, so I figured it was worth trying. I put a lot of time and effort into the business plan.”
He approached the Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork Inc., in Lowell, for assistance and received some low-interest loans to get his business off the ground.
Next, he had to come up with a name for his fledgling frozen business. He came up with a logo first, and that led him to the name.
“I had a bunch of ideas for names, but nothing caught on. So I started to think, what would work logo-wise? So I drew a cone with some ice cream on it, and I started ruffling the sides of the ice cream and realized it kind of looked like a sheep, like an ice cream sheep on a cone. So I came up with Black Sheep, which fits, in a sense, because it’s the black sheep of ice cream.
“Why be vanilla? I want to make the black sheep of ice cream. I mean, you can’t go out and get popcorn ice cream with cheddar-cheese caramel anywhere.”
And yes, that popcorn concoction, called Carmie, will be a future flavor you can order, along with these other off-the-beaten-track treats he has planned: Egon (orange-tangerine ice cream with orange candy); Serena (goat-cheese ice cream with a chili mango swirl); Liz (blueberry cheesecake ice cream with lemon candy and a lemon swirl; and Femi (brown-sugar vanilla with oat cookie, cashew, ginger, cumin and cherries).
The names Zac comes up with for his flavors are another story.
“I had to come up with names for the different flavors. Ben & Jerry’s does puns so that was out. So I thought, why not just call them by names of people?”
For instance, Letts is named after his mother, Colette. Egon is after a character in “Ghostbusters.” The goat-cheese flavor is called Serena because Serena Williams is the Greatest of All Time in tennis.
Thus, the donut ice cream with strawberry frosting and rainbow sprinkles is, obviously, called Homer after the “Simpsons” character who has a certain affinity for that type of doughnut.
Once he has his cart, which will keep the ice cream frozen, Zac plans to attend local fairs and markets to sell 8-ounce servings. He also plans to do business outings, parties and other events.
“My goal has always been to make it a bigger thing, but expanding too fast can hurt you, especially in the food industry,” Zac says. “I want to perfect this first, but if the opportunity presents itself, certainly I’ll consider it.”
Order your ice cream and sign up for alerts at hotplate.com/blacksheepcraft. For more information, email Zac at Zac@blacksheepcrafticecream.com.
Zac Turgeon holds pints of the first three batches of ice cream he has produced in his Marrimack Avenue kitchen – Basil (basil with white chocolate shards), Letts (pumpkin-spice latte) and Lucky (oat-cereal ice cream with rainbow marshmallows. (DRACUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PHOTO)
A look at Black Sheep Craft Ice Cream’s first three batches for sale (COURTESY BLACK SHEEP CRAFT ICE CREAM)