Joshua Davis, who now runs Epic Magazine with Joshuah "Argo" Bearman, had this idea on his back burner for the better part of a decade. It was only a seed, but JD could see the potential. In early 2014 he asked if I wanted to take a stab at it. I said sure. I also decided to team up with Julian Smith, a longtime friend and gifted writer.

We started hanging out at Ice Cream Express in southeast Portland, hoping to learn more about the trade and poking around for people to feature. We even drove a truck for a day and made a surprise stop at my son's summer camp to hand out free ice cream. But after a few months of research, I began to doubt whether we would ever find a real story--a rivalry that amounted to far more than two vendors coming to vehicular blows over a parking space. Then one day John Spitulski at Ice Cream Express mentioned a big guy in Salem named Dennis.

Our first meeting was over lunch at an old Portland diner called My Father's Place. Dennis started telling me about his life, his previous job selling mortgages, his family, and why he got into the ice cream business. Then this: "In 2009 my enemy first reared his ugly head." Soon after that, something about a "four-truck gang bang." I nearly choked on my barbecue sandwich--and instantly knew I had my story.

AuthorDavid Wolman