Spoonful(s) of Splendid Scrumdiddlyumptiousness
Visiting the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream headquarters was a real difficult time. (NOT) In reality, the only difficulty was me having to tell the umpteen people who volunteered to come with me that the seat in the car was already spoken for. Jeannine jumped on the trip option when I first mentioned I was trying to line up the indoor Producer visits during the winter.
Located in a small, renovated manufacturing plant in Columbus, Ohio that has been converted into offices, Jeni’s corporate headquarters is not large. It exudes a sense of creativity wherever you look. We met Charley in the test kitchen where he was working on a mix that will go to a Trisha Yearwood event in South Beach. I would tell you more about it but then this blog would explode, so suffice it to say that we must continue to trust Charley to come up with concoctions that we will most certainly enjoy.
He did share some funny mistakes…like when the smoked banana flavor they tried reminded Jeni of turpentine or the challenge with floral accents to balance it well or we would taste flowers and not ice cream. They do a lot of testing and usually work at least 6 months ahead. At this time they are working on new flavors to introduce later this summer and by February, next Christmas season’s new flavors will be developed.
The bakery is located in what used to be the original production kitchen. While there is still one ice cream maker in there to help test and process small batches, the major effort is the baking of the macarons and oatmeal cookies for the ice cream sandwiches as well as any cookie or cake crumbs that are part of a new flavor. Again, we observed but were not informed about a new flavor being developed. Just a teaser, no info available.
We learned that there are some Jeni’s products that can not be shipped to the Wild Ramp. For example, mini sandwiches are produced for catering events. I could easily imagine them selling in sets of 4 or 6, but we were told that they had not been able to develop a successful shipping method for the smaller product. Also, there are some flavors that are sold at the shops and not packaged in the pints for retail, like the Cherry Lambic Sorbet we tasted at the shop. (Writing this blog has awesome responsibilities but golly gee, someone had to do it. *G*)
Jeni’s started as “Scream” (you scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream) in 1996 and transitioned into the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream entity with a new focus. There are over 700 retail outlets (we are the only one in West Virginia!) and two international stores located in Dubai and Kuwait. (As you can imagine, shipping is expensive. Transported in a freezer section of a ship, the trip can take several weeks.) Today the corporate office employs about 20 people with 80 to 100 in the kitchens. Most everyone we saw seemed to have smiles. Working there must be a pleasure over and above the task of making ice cream.
Jeni’s ice cream was developed in close partnership with Warren Taylor, owner of Snowville Creamery. The milk there is single pasteurized in a slow process unlike what we receive as a Snowville dairy merchandiser. The slow process helps the milk and cream stay mixed, whereas ours will separate and you need to shake before pouring. This process also affects how the ice cream stays so creamy.
Tyler McDonald of Marketing took us on our tour and stressed that it is the attention to quality ingredients that makes the difference in this ice cream. Arrangements have been made with local farmers to purchase a field of fresh strawberries, for example. Another supplier to Jeni’s that we enjoy at the Wild Ramp is Laurel Valley Creamery. Jeni’s uses the Cloverton cheese mixed with cream cheese in a sauce used in one of the sundaes available in the shop. (Yup…this blog writing is a hard job.)
Ice cream is supposed to be fun, so lighten up and enjoy some Jeni’s. Go for quality!
P.S. If anyone wants to come with me to visit Producers, let me know. I will limit it to one person per trip—it is not a bus tour. *G*