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DIY dessert: By bringing a Kona Ice franchise to Charles County, La Plata residents Ed and Crystal Hogberg are putting a new spin on the traditional neighborhood ice cream van.

Their colorful truck might not play the distinctive jingle familiar to children everywhere, but the Hogbergs offer something the ice cream man cannot — the chance to flavor your own sweet treat.

Built into the side of the truck, a 10-head syrup dispenser — patented as the “Flavorwave” by Kona Ice — awaits customers who buy a cup of shaved ice from the Hogbergs.

Flavors include staples such as cherry, orange, grape, lemon lime, watermelon, strawberry and pina colada, along with tropical and coconut-infused cherry blends known respectively as “Godzilla” and “Tiger’s Blood.”

Tiger’s Blood is “by far the most popular” flavor, Crystal Hogberg said.

One spot is reserved for a rotating mystery flavor, which more often than not is blue raspberry, another extremely popular flavor.

“It’s just good, clean fun for kids and adults, too,” Ed Hogberg said. “Our goal is to not really compete with the ice cream man. It’s to offer a different product.”

Ice, ice, baby: The truck can haul about 400 pounds of ice, and using a machine that basically fires out shaved ice like a cannon, Ed Hogberg said he can serve between 350 and 400 cups per hour.

The Hogbergs also can brew coffee and hot chocolate, and they keep a small supply of ice cream in their freezer for customers who don’t want shaved ice.

With Hawaiian leis around their necks and tropical tunes playing over the truck’s speaker system, “We are the party,” Crystal Hogberg said. The truck depicts an array of cartoon animals, including the company mascot, Kona the Penguin.

“We’ve actually got a penguin suit,” Crystal Hogberg said.

“She’s got a penguin suit,” her husband corrected. “I don’t do the suit.”

Going active with their franchise in early September, the Hogbergs admit they “got a late start” on 2013, missing the summer months when demand for shaved ice is highest.

They’ve averaged about one event per week, including Nanjemoy Heritage Day, Bark in the Park, a Beltway Bombers basketball game at the College of Southern Maryland and the NDND Bucking Bulls Rodeo held last month at the county fairgrounds in La Plata.

They’ve also done fundraisers for Westlake High School, Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School and the Westlake Bulldogs youth football team and have reached out to the Maurice J. McDonough High School boosters club.

Though business figures to be slow during winter, the Hogbergs don’t plan to go into hibernation and hope to see business “easily” triple by next summer, Ed Hogberg said.

“I think people are really waiting for spring to hit, and that’s when we’re going to get slammed,” Crystal Hogberg said.

Jeff newman

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