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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Purple Tree truck offers açai bowls and more

Malik Shelp

The logo for Purple Tree Organic Açai Blends. The business offers acai bowls and other healthy foods.

If you think a treat that satisfies both your sweet tooth and your health fix is too good to be true, you may just be looking in the wrong place.

The Purple Tree Organic Açai Blends truck on North Park Avenue and East South Campus Drive offers frozen treats that are just as healthy as they are delicious.

Andre Newman, the co-founder of Purple Tree Organic Açai Blends, has been providing students with healthy options on campus since 2014.

Newman primarily specializes in açai bowls but also serves fresh juice, ice cream, coffee, smoothies and seasonal soups.

“My first experience with açai was in Brazil back in 1999,” he said. “I was a renegade vegetarian at the time, so I ate a lot of açai and fell in love with it.”

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On a trip to Hawaii in 2013, Newman and his now business partner, David Krummencker, noticed that they couldn’t walk nearly half a mile before running into another store that sold açai. The two were inspired by the açai business and wanted to bring it back to Tucson.

“When we got inspired in Hawaii, we came back and within a year we had basically found the truck and gotten it retrofitted with all of the equipment,” Newman said. “We decided that it would be a great concept to bring to Tucson considering that it’s a college town, there’s lots of health conscious young folk and the weather is ideal for frozen desserts.”

The now-bright-purple truck was originally a red, white and blue delivery truck the two found on Craigslist in Rio Rico, Arizona. Along with focusing on creating healthy products, Newman and Krummencker pride themselves on implementing sustainable features that make the truck environmentally friendly.

“My business partner is a solar technician so we were able to make it solar powered,” Newman said. “All of the kitchen appliances run off of solar panels and a battery bank. I feel like it really helps with our healthy food theme to be more energy independent.”

Each açai bowl begins with a Makai açai blend, an authentic form of açai Newman special orders from a distributor in California. Then he combines it with other organic berries and almond milk before decorating it with organic granola, strawberries and bananas.

“I can’t give away too much more than that,” Newman said. “But I think what distinguishes us is that we use all organic ingredients.”

Vidhi Bhargava, a senior neuroscience major, said she comes to the Purple Tree truck to find a healthy snack on campus.

“I love their açai bowls with mango instead of banana,” she said. “It makes me feel healthier than getting something else on campus and it gives you a lot of energy too.”

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Newman also noted that the energizing quality of açai is another aspect that appeals to students.

“It’s a good meal replacement,” he said. “I think we appeal to folks who may want a nice filling meal alternative that is healthy, a little easier to digest and is known to be energizing. It’s more of an upper than a downer in terms of the mid-day lunch options.”

Although the truck’s primary location is on campus, Newman also takes his business to Tumamoc Hill on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and to the Heirloom Farmers Market in Rillito Park on Sunday afternoons. If you stop by the Farmers Market, you may even get to meet the general manager, Newman’s nine-year-old daughter, Savan.

“It’s a small business that’s run locally by family and friends,” Newman said. “My daughter is known as the general manager; when she’s not in school she helps out on the truck. She’s our most valuable asset.”

Along with valuing family and sustainability, Newman focuses on producing the best quality açai. 

“We don’t really slouch at all on quality,” Newman said. “We didn’t invent this, but we definitely don’t deviate from what we know to be good açai from our travels.”

The Purple Tree truck can be found on campus Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. serving healthy treats and a friendly smile to go with it. 

Follow Zoe Crowdus on Twitter.

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