- FELICIA HYDE
Hella Halo’s Twist on a Classic Filipino Dessert
Inside what was once a trailer and is now an ube-colored truck, Pipo Carrasca combines traditional sweet Filipino flavors with shaved ice and milk to create his version of the classic Filipino dessert known as halo-halo. His take on making the icy treat the center of a business ignited the beginning of Hella Halo, a halo-halo dessert cart bringing the same comforting flavors and experiences found on the streets of the Philippines to Sacramento.
“I always knew that I wanted to do something with food. I didn’t know what it was until I started seeing these little carts pop up. Initially, I thought I’d do something like a Halo-Halo car, but there wasn’t any. There still aren’t a ton of places to get halo-halo exactly,” Carrasca said.
Unlike other Asian supermarkets and businesses such as Island Pacific, Seafood City, and other mom-and-pop establishments that exist throughout Sacramento, not many places offer the classic Filipino dessert or are halo-halo focused.
“Thankfully for us out here, I’m the only one that does halo-halo mobile, so that kind of sets us apart already,” said Carrasca.
Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert made of shaved ice and evaporated or condensed milk covering a variety of ingredients: jackfruit, coconut jelly, and sweet red beans. Toppings include but are not limited to leche flan, ube ice cream, and cereal.
Like many start-ups, Carrasca’s idea was merely an idea, one without any equipment, inventory, or a defined plan for execution. He attended local pop-ups, scoped the food truck scene, and networked with other small businesses, leading to an invitation for Hella Halo to join the local food truck pop community.
Despite limited preparation and accounts with vendors, Carrasca purchased the biggest magnolia ube containers he could find, worked with what he had, and sold out within the first hour of setting up.
The need for a halo-halo cart for Filipinx in Sacramento was evident. Carrasca couldn’t believe the response to Hella Halo following its Instagram debut in January 2019. He began hashtagging “Sacramento, Filipino, Filipinx, Filipino owner” and words that would bring awareness to the Filipino community in Sacramento. Within about a couple of weeks, Hella Halo had roughly 900 followers.
Customers can visit HellaHalo.com to learn about the anatomy of Halo-Halo, browse the menu, submit forms for catering, and view their pop-up schedule with various locations, which updates every Monday.
Aside from its signature halo-halo treats and desserts, such as ice cream stuffed pandesal and banana lumpia covered in ice cream and cereal, Hella Halo plans to expand its menu and eventually incorporate savory food items.
“I don’t think it was us personally that inspired the business. It was just our story that inspired people. I’m glad I was able to pursue it,” Carrasca said. “From only starting on the weekends, all this stuff kind of grew, and we could really support our kids and family with this.”
With the popularity of his Filipino dessert truck skyrocketing faster than he had imagined, Carrasca is currently working on expanding nationwide and establishing a truck in Hawaii and potentially Las Vegas.
“Then we do a brick-and-mortar atmosphere for catering and festivals. Hopefully, in the future, there will be franchises somewhere. That it would be cool to have east coasters,” Carrasca said.
Hella Halo has become an inspiration for small and local businesses to do just the same.
“Since starting, we’ve noticed so many other Filipino bakers, food vendors, and food trucks popping up out of nowhere. We’ve met people who have told us that Hella Halo is the reason why they started their own business,” Carrasca said. “It’s so dope to see this many Filipinos within the community.”