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“Life is too short to be Vanilla”
Vanilla. VAN-IL-LA. Three syllables which for three and a half years we could not utter. Harry Potter had “He-who-shall-not-be-named“, we had the “V-word“. For three and a half years we have been fighting and resisting making a vanilla. Yes, three and a half years we were an ice cream store with no Vanilla flavor. Can you imagine that, one of the world’s most popular flavors and we didn’t make it. Every time someone would come in and ask for Vanilla a little bit of us would die on the inside. SPOILER ALERT: we now have a Vanilla flavor.
Now you may be thinking why? Well, let us explain.
Why we never had a Vanilla flavor?
Now, don’t get us wrong. It is not that we have never tried to make a Vanilla flavor before. In fact, we have tried several times to make a Vanilla flavor with disastrous consequences. The first time we ever launched a Vanilla flavor it was Superbowl Sunday. Patriots vs Jaguars (we think). We were still soft serve at this point in time. We poured the mixture into the machine and for about 45 – 60 minutes the flavor worked. It was soft, people liked the flavor (albeit more coconut than vanilla in taste) and everything was right in the world. Then disaster struck. The mixture hard-froze, the soft-serve machine imploded and it sounded like an 18-wheeler had just decided to slam on the brakes to a dead stop from 60 mph to 0 mph. It was like a train crash had happening in the store. The sound was unbearable.
Vanilla had definitely not worked.
1.5 Years later – attempt no.2
Broken from our first attempt and the soft serve machine we decided to have another go. We got rid of the soft serve machines and we were now scooping. Life was good. Flavors and texture had improved from batch freezing rather than using a soft serve machine. We could also now do more flavors and more variety without having to worry about the soft serve machines. Enough time had passed and we had an ice cream truck (which meant even more questions – “why no vanilla?“). It was time to give Vanilla another go.
This time the recipe was a mixture of coconut milk, vanilla and maple syrup. The result was great flavor. It just didn’t taste of Vanilla. Maple syrup is a great natural sweetener, but its flavor is way too strong. It makes everything taste like Maple Syrup. Plus because maple syrup is naturally so sweet it meant that you only have to use a tiny amount. The result was a coconut maple tasting flavor that crumbled when it froze and was served. We tried it out for a few weeks, but the texture was just a no-go.
Defeated we hung up the towel on Vanilla once again.
Attempt no. 3
Fast forward another year and Vanilla starts entering into our minds again. Time heals and we did not want to get defeated by Vanilla. It was time to give it another go and this time we were determined to get it right. We spent 3 months researching and testing new sweeteners and combinations. Monk Fruit (…definitely no), coconut nectar, coconut sugar, maple syrup and finally back to date syrup. By a process of elimination, we knew date would work the best. We had also starting using Coconut Cream instead of Coconut Milk – the higher fat content would help with the freezing and setting process (something we had found with other flavors we launched like Matcha and Coffee).
The real issue was how to get rid or eliminate that “coconut flavor” as much as possible to get that smooth Vanilla taste. At the same time you had to balance getting just the right amount of dates before the taste became too “date-like”.
It took about 10 different recipes and a process of constant trial and error, but we finally had the taste down. The next part was hoping and praying that it would set okay and be something we could scoop and serve.
The morning the day after the night before
It was the morning the day after the night before we made our first batch. The bucket was sitting in the freezer overnight it was set and ready to be tested. We had been up all night thinking about Vanilla and hoping it would scoop. That morning we opened up the freezer as soon as we came in and lifted the lid. It looked too hard. On gosh, it wasn’t going to scoop. This was bad. Defeated we reached for a scoop and went in for what was going to be the inevitable failure.
Except something happened.
It scooped. It like really scooped.
In that one moment three and half years of V-words had been conquered. We literally jumped for joy and best of all the flavor tasted amazing.
Vanilla – Love it
Thomas Edison said that he didn’t fail 1000 times when he tried to make the light bulb, he just found 1000 ways not to make a light bulb. Life, like many things, is persistence. Fail, get up again and try again. Our Vanilla journey took three and half years. Yes, making a Vanilla flavor may not be the most important thing in the world (especially given at the time of writing there is a global pandemic), but there is a moral to all of this. Whatever you are doing, whatever you want to achieve – persist. There are always bumps in the road, there are always hurdles. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is yourself. Stay strong and persist and you will eventually reach your goal. You can’t get to your destination without taking the steps.
…and you know what? Vanilla is now one of our best selling and most popular flavors. It is even our go to scoop when we want one – we never in our life time thought we would write those words.
Next time you are in the store or ordering from the truck or online make sure to give the Vanilla a-go and let us know what you think.
Frozen Fruit Co’s Vanilla flavor is made from coconut, vanilla and date – that’s it!