By Leah Schmalz

sticks and cones ice creamJust a year after being recognized by MSN’s Delish website, Sticks and Cones Ice Cream has landed on a list of the top 10 best gourmet ice cream trucks in the country. Crafted by, the list included only two soft-serve ice cream trucks and only one from the South. The Mint Hill-based business’ Cones truck was recognized for its unique ice cream creations. “We have a pretty creative menu,” said Karen Trauner, who owns the business with her husband Dave. “We’ve worked very hard on it and it’s different from the average ice cream truck.” While their Sticks truck focuses on traditional, nostalgic ice cream, the Cones truck specializes in gourmet offerings like the Boldy Balsamic, a sundae that features strawberries paired with varieties of flavored balsamic vinegar like blueberry or cinnamon pear. “We get our ideas from all over the place,” said Karen.Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 7.31.49 PM She said they take their limited ice cream flavors- vanilla, chocolate and swirl- and come up with additional ingredients that would pair well for exciting flavor combinations. The whole family gets involved, including 16-year-old Ben, who created the S’More specialty sundae with chocolate, marshmallow sauce and graham cracker crumbles. Both he and Aaron, 11, help out by working on the trucks as well. “Aaron runs the register at Food Truck Fridays,” said Karen. “People love to see him.” Before they made the decision to start up the trucks, Karen was a stay-at-home mother and Dave had been working at Bank of America. “He decided he wanted to leave the corporate world and strike out on his own,” said Karen. “It was quite fortunate for us because after he left his entire division was wiped out.” Dave’s past experience as a chef and Karen’s time working for various ice cream shops adds further expertise to their business. In addition to Food Truck Fridays, both trucks can be privately contracted for birthday parties, business events and even weddings. “It’s so much fun,” she said. “Everybody is always happy to see you. Nobody is ever in a bad mood at an ice cream truck.” With business growing steadily over the past year, the family has been giving thought to the future. Rather than hiring a driver for another truck, they’d like to keep the business entirely family-run and expand in a different way. “We are thinking, ‘What’s next?’ and that is something that’s been under discussion in the house,” said Karen. “We don’t quite know what’s next, but we are definitely thinking, ‘Where do we go from here?’”