My Sweet Experience at the Milk Bar Pop-Up Shop

the milk bar food truck

     Wow, not that many people are here, I think to myself as I walk along the sidewalk.  As I near Emporium Pies in the Bishop Arts District, my hopes soar.  Nobody seems to be in line—it looks deserted.  This is awesome! I continue to walk over, thinking about what I will order, if I will buy a t-shirt or not, and whether they have any stickers for my laptop. 

     I cross the street and walk towards the newly built courtyard next to Emporium Pies and– Oh no. I glance to my right to see a sprawling, snake-like line of people twisted and turned around the courtyard.  About two or three hundred people are patiently waiting outside.  The weather is quite pleasant right now, but in an hour, it will feel like the Sahara Desert.

     Disappointed and feeling a little naïve, I navigate my way through the maze of people and stand at the very end of the line.  To be honest with myself, I have no idea why I thought I would be the first one in line.  After all, Milk Bar is coming to Dallas.

     For those of you that have never heard of Milk Bar, it was founded in 2008 by Christina Tosi who has been nicknamed “one of the most creative people” by Fast Company.  She also is a two-time James Beard award-winner, which is like the Oscar for restaurants.  The cookies, truffles, and pies Milk Bar produces are reminiscent of desserts produced by a 1950s bakery.  Think of Suzy Cakes but from New York and with crazy flavor combinations.  Plus, unlike most bakeries today, they have gluten-free options in almost everything they offer.

               Over the summer, Milk Bar went on their “All You Can Treat Tour”, where they toured the United States in their pink food truck, setting up Milk Bar pop-up shops in cities like Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and Minneapolis.  Pop-up shops like Milk Bar’s are popular because they are trendy and open for a limited time.  Over 25,000 people visited the Kylie Cosmetics pop-up shop in Los Angeles.  People love pop-up shops because they generate excitement—customers love how scarce the products are within a store, so buying a product feels special.  The shops are also aesthetically pleasing–for instance, the all-pink Milk Bar food truck.  However, mainly, these shops provide a unique experience for customers, as customers feel special and exclusive.  These factors cause people to absolutely love pop-up shops.  Plus, the name “pop-up shop” sounds cute, right?

     I keep thinking about how fun it will be to try these crazy flavor combinations while waiting in line, and I feel myself getting hungrier by the minute.  The two people standing in front of me order a pizza and ask me to hold their spot in line while they pick it up from across the street.  Sadly, however, they do not offer me a slice when they return. 

     Turns out, waiting in these long lines to see a musician or even buy some baked goods from a food truck can be cutthroat.  Ahead of me in line a mom is yelling at a supposed line-cutter, and two Milk Bar employees have to settle them down.  To me, this is all reminiscent of the Wild West; two opposing factions facing off in the Texas heat, only to be calmed down by an intervening citizen.  That may be a little too dramatic, but by this point, my hunger mixed with being dehydrated is starting to take a toll, but there is no way I’m getting out of line and subjecting myself to crazy moms 

the tent where you purchase milk bar products

     It is about two o’clock in the afternoon, and I can see the food truck at this point.    I have been here for three hours, but I figured I will only be here for maybe another hour, tops.  Fifteen minutes go by and I am finally at the front of the line.  When I finally go up to the tent, I order a few of their cookies, their soft serve ice cream, their birthday cake truffles, and I buy a t-shirt.  I also grab a couple of stickers. 

a display of milk bar products

     After making my purchases, I was able to chat for a few minutes with Milk Bar’s founder, Christina Tosi.  She was very sweet and approachable, and when I mentioned I would write an article about Milk Bar in my school paper, she was ecstatic.  By now, my ice cream was starting to melt so I decided to try some of my purchases.  I was a little disappointed that the baked goods came in plastic packages because it made me doubt their freshness, but they still tasted good.  The flavor combinations, although wild, were delicious.  The cookies were soft and chewy, and tasted amazing.  The Compost Cookie was the perfect balance of sweet and salty, with gobs of butterscotch, pretzel crunchies, and potato chips.  The birthday cake truffles tasted like an old-fashioned vanilla cake and melted in my mouth.  My favorite purchase was the Confetti Cookie—it was the perfect, buttery cookie that tastes like a slice of vanilla cake.  Waiting in that long line for three hours was totally worth it.

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