NORWALK, Conn. -- It took Tyler Moss almost dying for him to figure out that the idea he had been mulling around for a while was worth doing.
Moss, who suffers from a peanut allergy, always felt a bit deprived of all the things he couldn't eat growing up. Laying in the hospital after his last attack -- he unknowingly ate something he was told was peanut-free -- he knew others felt the same.
And so, his concept for Cocoanuts was born. The new food truck, specializing in vegan and gluten-free desserts and ice cream, will have its official grand opening at The Rinks at Vets Park in Norwalk the end of October though Moss has already been doing events around Fairfield County showcasing his wares.
He plans to be outside the rink weekday afternoons (times will vary depending on the public skate schedule). On weekends, the truck will be parked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eventually, he'd like to open a bricks and mortar location.
Moss said the idea had been kicking around his brain for a while, ever since he started the popular Bun Burger Bun allergen friendly hamburger food truck in 2016 When he parted ways with that in January 2017 he decided to focus on dessert.
The idea had started formulating when, at Bun Burger Bun, he sold a lot of hot cocoa. Later, talking with local chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt, he shared his idea of doing "crazy desserts" Serendipity-style -- think frozen hot chocolate and even frozen hot chocolate stuffed into a doughnut.
He also wanted to replicate the Thai rolled ice cream trend, albeit with an allergen-friendly twist.
His goal, he said, has always been to cater to everyone; even surprising those who don't have any allergies with how good his dairy-free, gluten-free concoctions taste.
Along with partnering with Chocopologie, he's also working with Izzy B’s to make allergy-friendly Ice cream cookie sandwiches.
His best reaction so far? Giving cookie dough ice cream to a young girl who had never tasted it before and an ice cream sandwich to an older gentleman who was so thrilled to be able to an ice cream sandwich -- he hadn't eaten ice cream due to dietary restrictions in five years -- that he came back the next day for another.
"The smiles I've seen from folks who have food limitations warms my heart," said Moss.
Among the flavors he offers -- you can expect eight to nine at any given time -- are avocado, cocoa cookie dough, hor cocoa, apple cadabra (apple cinnamon pie), orange creamsicle, pineapple butter, blueberry swirl, and strawberry. He's working on watermelon as well as a matcha green tea and ube (purple yam).
Down the road, he hopes to add an expanded food program that includes “build your own avocado toast,” chia pudding, and Thai rolled ice cream made from protein shakes. The goal, he said, is to explore all sorts of creative approaches to healthy eats. That includes experimenting with alternative sweeteners to cater to diabetics.
"My motivation has always been to spread awareness of allergy consciousness and to make things readily available to everyone," said Moss.
"Folks need to know where the ingredients in the foods they eat are coming from and where they are sourced. People like me shouldn't have to worry wondering if what they eat will land them in the hospital."
To that end, he also hopes to partner with local restaurants to serve his desserts.
After all, he stressed, there's more awareness -- and more of a need to eat healthy. Make it delicious and everyone wants a bite.
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