Local Girl Hits the Ice Cream Jackpot

When Häagen-Dazs and the Food Network announced a contest to create the next big ice cream flavor, Bushwick’s Judiaann Woo knew exactly what her entry would be. “I’d been noticing sticky toffee pudding on menus everywhere,” including Park Slope’s Tempo, she remembers.

Sticky what? “It’s a British dessert,” she explains patiently, perhaps not for the first time. “You know how they call everything pudding?” Indeed. Woo knew other existing desserts, like crème brulée and dulce de leche, had been re-interpreted into successful flavors, and had a hunch this captivating combination could win the judges’ hearts and minds.

She was right. Months after her filmmaker husband shot a video of her explaining her submission, Woo was invited to the elimination round.

“We flew the finalists to our research and development facility to make their flavors,” recounts Diane McIntyre, Senior PR manager for Häagen-Dazs. “A panel of our food scientists and marketing team tasted all the flavors, and narrowed it down to Cannoli, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle. Then we held a tasting weekend in our shops, and the public voted.”

Of her confectionary victory, Woo is a modest: “I seriously didn’t think I was going to win. Sure I hoped, but it was a shock.”

When the pints hit Brooklyn, Woo got enthusiastic texts from friends in the frozen aisle: “It’s landed at Key Food!”

And, yes, she’s been approached by adoring strangers. “I walked into a party Saturday and someone shouted, ‘You’re the sticky toffee pudding lady!’ And I’ve gotten a lot of fan e-mail from across the country, people saying ‘I love your flavor!’”