NY Cream­ery Seeks to Be the Next Ben & Jerry's

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Han­nah Hayes

All around New York, Am­ple Hills Cream­ery Inc. is fa­mous for its in­cred­i­bly de­li­cious ice creams and scrump­tious orig­i­nal fla­vors like Choco­late 3 ways and Salted Crack Caramel. Across the na­tion it has gained recog­ni­tion for be­ing the Star Wars film fran­chise’s of­fi­cial ice cream. Its limited-edi­tion Dark Side and Light Side fla­vors sold 40,000 pints on­line when it was re­leased along­side the new movie The Force Awak­ens.

Out of a sin­gle fa­cil­ity span­ning 900 square feet, Am­ple Hills co-founder Brian Smith made all of that Star Wars ice cream. Ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg News, “Now, as he works on new fla­vors for The Last Jedi, he’s open­ing a 15,000-square-foot fac­tory in Brook­lyn and a new flag­ship store in L.A., and gearing up for ice cream’s big­gest chal­lenge: to be­come the next Ben & Jerry’s. Be­fore he be­gan selling scoops at the first Am­ple Hills in a res­i­den­tial Brook­lyn neigh­bor­hood in 2011, Smith was a science-fiction screen­writer with a side ob­ses­sion. ‘ I ab­so­lutely love mak­ing ice cream,’ he says. He and his wife, Jackie Cus­cuna, fash­ioned their store on the small neigh­bor­hood shop Cus­cuna grew up vis­it­ing— Ed­die’s Sweet Shop in Queens, an ice cream par­lor that’s been open for 108 years. By the time they’d opened their sec­ond store, Smith had de­ter­mined he wanted to be the next Ben & Jerry’s. In 2015, on a road trip to Ver­mont with Cus­cuna (now Am­ple Hills CCO, or chief cul­ture of­fi­cer), he met the ac­tual Jerry Green­field, who gave them some key ad­vice: Con­cen­trate on pints of ice cream, not stores. Vir­tu­ally all Ben & Jerry’s stores are fran­chises.”

Many busi­nesses in the food in­dus­try how drawn on the Ben & Jerry’s brand for in­spi­ra­tion. Since ice cream is so sim­ple to make, the founders de­cided to do that in 1978. Adding all sorts of creative chunks and swirls, they made a place for them­selves in the history of ar­ti­sanal food. For around $326 mil­lion Unilever bought out Ben & Jerry’s in 2000. The brands an­nual rev­enue to­day is about $1.23 bil­lion, which re­mains to be be­low the now Nestlé owned Häa­gen-Dazs by $1 bil­lion. In 2014, Unilever pur­chased an­other ar­ti­san ice cream brand, Talenti, whose rev­enue at that time was $120 mil­lion. Al­though Talenti is ad­mired by Smith, he doesn’t think it comes any­where close to the level of Am­ple Hills.

He said, “Their ice cream is good, it’s per­fectly fine, but noth­ing makes it stand out other than the con­tainer.”

“I ab­so­lutely love mak­ing ice cream”

Am­ple Hills founders Jackie Cus­cuna and Brian Smith.

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