We scream for “Not Fried Chicken” Ice Cream.

By Betsy Cribb
Updated March 26, 2021
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Not Fried Chicken Ice Cream
Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee

The idea for ice cream bars made to look like fried chicken came to Cynthia Wong in a flash of delirious inspiration.

"I was really tired and half-asleep on the couch and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be funny if I made an ice cream drumstick that actually looked like a fried chicken drumstick?'," says Wong, the owner and chef behind Charleston, South Carolina's Life Raft Treats. "It was kind of one of those fruits of exhaustion, you know? When you're so tired, you become creative because there's no, 'Oh, we shouldn't do that, or 'No, that doesn't sound like a good idea.' It's just all creativity because you're so tired that your guard is down."

What started out as a "dorky joke" that amused Wong has now become a mainstay of her business. The drumstick, made of waffle-flavored ice cream surrounding a chocolate-covered cookie "bone" and rolled in white chocolate and cornflake crumbs, is available for purchase from her Charleston-based ice cream truck or, true to fried chicken form, in a bucket of nine pieces via Goldbelly, a site that ships nationwide (BUY IT: $99; goldbelly.com).

Crafting the artisan treats comes naturally to Wong, who worked in restaurants for years, earning recognition as a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef six times. Burnout eventually led her to leave that world behind. "It was just time to do my own thing and try to be happy about food again," she says.

For Wong, ice cream seemed like just the way to do that.

"I've always really loved ice cream," says the chef. "There's this place on the Île de Ré which is this island off the coast of France, where there's this amazing ice cream shop called La Martinière. They make super artistic ice cream creations and flavors. It's so fresh and lovely and beautiful, and it'd always been this big inspiration for me."

With encouragement from her husband, Wong launched Life Raft Treats in 2018. Ever since, she's been churning out flavors made with locally sourced dairy and crafting novelty desserts that make people do a double take. In addition to her "Not Fried Chicken," she also makes an ice cream sandwich shaped like, you guessed it, an actual sandwich.

"Sometimes, we see our customers unwrap their food in front of us, and they start to laugh, which is great," says Wong. "That's the best compliment. To me, that's the highest compliment I could ever receive from anybody. They got a giggle out of what we made. It made them happy for a little bit."

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Mark your calendar to snag a pint of this limited-edition scoop.