It started with dunking—not doughnuts in coffee, but chocolate chip cookies in milk. “Since my boyhood I’ve wanted that exact taste but could never find it,” says Brooklyn-born attorney Richard LaMotta, 39. So in 1977 he borrowed $80,000 and set out to recreate his taste sensation in the form of a Chipwich—vanilla or chocolate ice cream dotted with Dutch chocolate chips and sandwiched between just-baked chocolate chip cookies. Four years later he raised another $500,000 for pushcarts and vendors, and the first Chipwich stand opened its umbrella in Manhattan.
This fall vendors are selling 35,000 Chipwiches a day at $1 apiece, and next month the Chipwich will be available in supermarkets across the country. LaMotta’s backers are counting on a craze to rival the nationwide thirst for Perrier. In fact, Bruce Nevins, who masterminded marketing the bubbly in the U.S., has invested more than $100,000 in Chipwich’s future.
Chipwich is not without its competitors, however. LaMotta filed a $13 million unfair competition and trademark suit against Good Humor in September, alleging that the giant ice-cream company pirated the Chipwich product, package and cart after LaMotta had hired Good Humor to be a distributor. So far the federal courts have restrained Good Humor from passing off their version as a Chipwich. If things go as planned, LaMotta, who completed law school at night while working as a CBS video engineer, projects gross sales of up to $30 million over the next year. Along with a fortune, the divorced father of two teenage boys has amassed something else since launching Chipwich: an extra 20 pounds.