Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Take the tried and true and make it new. So goes one of our 12 Business Axioms. But aren’t there some things too perfect, too sacred to try and improve upon?
Like ice cream for instance?
If companies like Ben & Jerry’s have proven anything, it’s that the answer is: absolutely not. While flavors like vanilla, cookie-dough, and rocky road may never go out of style, there’s no end to the possibilities when it comes to tickling taste buds.
But… Riesling Poached Pear? Queen City Cayenne?
Jeni Britton Bauer’s first shot at “the ice cream business” didn’t turn out so hot. Her ice cream stand in Columbus, Ohio closed in 2000. But Bauer wasn’t done trying to capitalize on the chilly treat. Two years later, Bauer and her husband launced Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
Last month, Entrepreneur.com did a piece on Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, in which Mrs. Bauer explains the inspiration for her company. “I just thought it was a super-creative thing to do: make something frozen hot,” she says of her first ice cream experiment: chocolate ice cream mixed with cayenne pepper oil. “So when I did that, I started thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’ve never had ice cream with rose petal or basil or all these other wonderful things.'”
Their goal is to make ice cream that is “less sweet and more flavorful,” as the company advertises.
Before launching the business, Bauer made a point to pinpoint the exact things she needed to do to improve upon her first venture.
For one, she needed to have a set of flavors that were always available, the ones customers were nuts about, like Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Salty Caramel, and Wildberry Lavender. Then she would have another freezer for experimental or seasonal flavors, like Corn Syrup Custard with Whiskey & Pecans (it takes about 16 weeks for one of her ice cream flavors to go from an idea to a finished product, an incredibly short amount of time when compared to larger, more established brands).
She also did an overhaul of what she put into her product. When people pay $10 for a pint of ice cream, they expect top-notch ingredients. That’s why Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams uses “fresh ingredients found in the Ohio countryside as well as responsibly-raised exotics from around the world,” according to their website.
And so far, it’s worked. Despite the recession, the company has managed to grow steadily. Entrepreneur.com reports that “in 2006, a Jeni’s customer took a job with Dean & DeLuca, a chain of upscale grocery stores based in New York City, and convinced co-founder Giorgio DeLuca to carry Jeni’s ice cream. Since that first wholesale account, the Bauers have landed over 150 more nationwide.”
Between that, blossoming online sales, and a steady base of loyal customers, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has expanded to eight locations, and a staff of 30 full-time workers in the office and kitchen, with a total of more than 120 people on the payroll.
Check out all of Jeni’s unique offerings at their website, jenisicecreams.com. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be an Ohio resident, chances are there’s a place near you to pick up some of this intriguing ice cream.
Now if I could only get the taste of cayenne pepper and chocolate out of my mouth…