Ice Cream & Bananas might be one of the Rio Grande Valley’s best-kept secrets. This ice cream business brings joy and smiles to locals, and it isn’t your average ice cream spot.
The business was launched in 2016 by Denise and Marshall Eason. At the time, the couple set up shop at the McAllen Farmers Market. The popular homemade French-style custard ice cream and vegan-friendly flavors started bringing in more customers.
“We knew we wanted to do something with food, but we didn’t know what it was,” Denise said.
The couple and their kids would visit Iowa, where Marshall was from, and keeping their children tied to his roots, they wanted them to experience everything there was to experience.
“In the summertime, we’d visit the farm in Iowa and the local farmer’s markets. A man was selling ice cream made from scratch at one of them,” Denise said.
“And you know, we were thinking about doing something, and we said, ‘Why not ice cream?”
Nothing like it existed in the Valley.
“There’s nothing truly made from scratch, like cracking the eggs, mixing the milk, the cream, the sugar. There wasn’t anything like it here, so we decided to do it. We were offering our community a better alternative than store-bought. Not only dairy but vegan options as well. People loved the ice cream.”
This business story isn’t one that happened so seamlessly and without stress and burden. The couple decided to launch their own business because Marshall had been diagnosed with an incurable heart condition. They decided to open their own business to spend more time together as a family.
The two didn’t have an extensive food and dessert business background. Marshall had degrees in business and business management and a computer engineering degree. Denise had her degrees in public relations and advertising. They simply enjoyed the pleasures of food.
“We were foodies,” Denise said. “We did a lot of reading before we started making ice cream,” Denise explained, adding that it came more naturally to her husband, whose family had a history in the food industry.
The couple grew Ice Cream & Bananas, named by Marshall when the two were trying to come up with a name for the ice cream business. The two ran the company by setting up at various farmer’s markets throughout the Valley from 2016 to 2019. Then in September 2019, Marshall passed away in his sleep.
After her husband’s passing, Denise had their three young children to think of, so she took almost a year off from ice cream, but then in late 2020, she was making ice cream again.
You can find her and the popular ice cream she and Marshall created at the McAllen Farmer’s Market, Sunset Live in McAllen, or Quinta Mazatlan events in McAllen. Denise produces her ice cream at CC’s Sweets, which allows her to also stock CC’s Sweets with locally homemade ice cream.
The Ice Cream & Bananas fan favorites include the Honeycomb flavor made with pieces of toffee and chocolate. The menu also has other fun flavors named “I Love Cookies,” “Death by Chocolate” and other alternating flavors like strawberry, mango, and carrot cake. Banana pops are also popular as they offer vegan options like Oreo, Toasted Coconut, and Sprinkles.
Denise hopes to fulfill the dream she and Marshall had to expand and open a brick-and-mortar. She envisions a warm, inviting space filled with freshly churned ice cream aromas. She hopes to create a community gathering place where families and friends can come together, enjoy a scoop, and create tasty memories.
“I want it to have an outdoor space. I can see people sitting outside and eating their ice cream,” she said. “It will be a happy place with happy faces.”
To find out where to get the tasty homemade ice cream, follow Ice Cream and Bananas on Instagram @icecreamandbananas.