Richard LaMotta, who turned his childhood passion for dunking cookies in milk into the Chipwich - two chocolate chip cookies embracing a chunk of vanilla ice cream dotted with chocolate chips - died Tuesday at his home in Chappaqua, N.Y. He was 67.
The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Kayla said.
On May 1, 1982, Mr. LaMotta dispatched 60 street-cart vendors, each wearing pith helmets and khakis, to the streets of Manhattan to begin selling his 4 1/2-ounce concoction (including 3 1/2 ounces of ice cream) for what at the time was a pricey $1 each. A few hours later, all 25,000 Chipwiches had been gobbled - the start of something big.
Within two weeks, Mr. LaMotta was selling 40,000 a day. By the middle of that summer, the Chipwich plants in Queens, N.Y., and Lodi, N.J., were turning out 200,000 a day. It didn't hurt that Mayor Edward Koch posed for a publicity photo - for no fee - as he bit into a Chipwich.
Soon there were imitators, banking on the legal position that they could make a Chipwich-like product, using similar ingredients, as long as they called it something else; among them were Chilly Chips and Chips 'n' Chips.
"That's the way it works," a competitor told the New York Times. "One guy comes up with a good idea, and everybody rips him off. It's the American way."
Still, Mr. LaMotta did well. By the time he sold his company to Coolbrands International, a Canadian distributor, in 2002, more than a billion Chipwiches had been sold by approximately 3,700 vendors in 36 markets. The brand was eventually bought by Nestle, which stopped making the product because it competed with its own version, Mr. LaMotta said.
Richard Edmund LaMotta was born in Brooklyn on May 20, 1942, one of two children of Joseph and Mary Gibbons LaMotta. His father was a butcher. (His cousin was the middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta.)
Mr. LaMotta's first marriage, to Rosemary Tadlock, ended in divorce. In addition to his daughter Kayla, he is survived by his second wife, the former Elaine Nadel; another daughter, Marika; a son from his first marriage, Thomas; and a granddaughter.