Image via @leonasllc, Instagram

You know them. You love them. You’ve quite possibly tried to finish one by yourself and may have faced defeat (guilty!).

Local ice cream maker Leona’s Ice Cream is certainly most famous for its ice cream sandwiches, which are sold in many locally-owned restaurants, grocery stores, and shops around the city (and may even be in your freezer right now). Boasting some unique flavors like black sesame on salted tahini chocolate chunk and cucumber and orange blossom on shortbread, these king-sized cookie and ice cream creations are basically irresistible — especially the seasonal flavors.

What you might not know about Leona’s is that they also sell their ice cream by the pint, and if it’s not in your local grocery store yet, it may be soon!

As admirers of all things local, we love that Leona’s uses local dairy products and ingredients as much as possible to craft their crave-worthy creations, but we’re sure that many ice cream lovers’ favorite thing about Leona’s ice cream is that while it’s made of 100% real dairy, it’s also delightfully lactose-free. That means your lactose-intolerant loved ones can still enjoy the tasty goodness. (Or, if they’re like many of the lactose-intolerant people I know and love, they can eat these sandwiches like they would any other ice cream sandwich without hesitation and not suffer the consequences).

By now you may be asking, “Who’s Leona?” The truth is, Leona was a “spunky” senior dog who was so beloved by her owners Katie Heldstab and Christa Puskarich that they decided to name their burgeoning ice cream company after her.

Leona’s Ice Cream co-owners Katie and Christa, image via @leonasllc, Instagram

Fun fact: the couple wrote on Instagram that they met on Pride weekend in 2007 at a roller derby afterparty and were married three years later, and that “to say that Pride means a lot to [them] is an understatement.”

Katie and Christa started making ice cream together after receiving an ice cream maker as a wedding gift. Katie, who has a background in public relations and promoting food brands, is also lactose-intolerant herself — but that didn’t stop her. A lifelong lover of ice cream, she and Christa worked together to develop their own recipe for dairy-based, lactose-free ice cream (made using a natural enzyme) for all to enjoy!

Thanks to Katie’s education at the celebrated Penn State Ice Cream Short Course and Christa’s “unyielding dedication to quality and consistency and uncanny ability to dream up winning flavor combinations,” the couple launched a wholesale ice cream empire that has quickly become a favorite of many locals — myself included.
If you’re looking to pick up a pint of Leona’s delicious ice cream or stock up on some of their famous sandwiches, visit their website for a map of locations in the metro area where you can find their products. Be sure to keep up with their social media for updates on exciting new flavors, upcoming events, and new retail partners!

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Kaidia Pickels

Kaidia is a native Pittsburgher and a content writer for a local marketing agency. She loves to travel, try new dishes at local restaurants, and drop in to fitness class throughout the city. She's a die-hard Pens fan as well as an amateur baker and mixologist — sometimes combining both in one recipe!

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