Local Bites: Mr. Dewie’s
For those who are lactose intolerant, allergic to soy, sensitive to gluten, vegan or any and all possible combinations of the previously mentioned, ice cream has traditionally been out of the question as a dessert option. Thankfully, two local Bay Area brothers, desperately trying to find a way around their dietary restrictions, had the brilliant idea of making a delicious and healthy nut milk ice cream alternative, which can be enjoyed by vegans and health nerds alike. Their ingredients are 100% organic and non-GMO. Mr. Dewie’s products have made a guilty pleasure dessert guilt-free, while still maintaining the creaminess and delicious flavor that you want out of your ice cream.
Although only a couple of years in operation, Mr. Dewie’s nut milk ice cream products can now be found in health food stores up and down the West Coast, including our local Berkeley Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl. I recently spoke with co-founder, and UC Berkeley alum, Ari Cohen, to find out more about his Oakland-born and Oakland-based company.
Q: The idea of using nut milk to make alternative ice cream products is certainly very unique, where did this idea come from?
A: It originated as a result of multiple health reasons, for I found out I was lactose, gluten, and soy sensitive, probably as a result of eating lots of foods full of all those ingredients my entire life. My kids are also lactose and gluten intolerant, so I met with a nutritionist who helped me change my diet and introduced me to milk made from dates and pecans. My family and me loved this alternative to milk so we started experimenting with different nut milks and eventually got the idea for nut milk ice cream. My brother had previous business experience so we decided to partner up and start Mr. Dewie’s! This idea truly stemmed from creating a delicious and healthy alternative for my own family, so as a result, we have a huge commitment to high standards for our customers because of the high standards we have for ourselves.
Q: Part of these high standards includes being 100% organic, how important is this to you? And are there any plans to also become fair-trade certified?
A: Being 100% organic is definitely very important to us from both a business and philosophy standpoint. Many of our customers shop for mainly organic products, so being organic makes our product more desirable and marketable in health food stores. But more importantly, being organic reflects our commitment to giving our customers the healthiest product possible, for we use no preservatives or additives and all of our ingredients are non-GMO. As of right now, we aren’t fair-trade certificated, but it is definitely something we would like to accomplish in the future.
Q: Besides having high health standards, how have standards of sustainability played a role in your company?
A: We are definitely a green company. All of our containers are 100% recyclable and we don’t use any plastic in our products, unlike most ice cream companies that use plastic lids. We also use a glycol cooling system, which is a self-containing system that uses sufficiently less water compared to other cooling systems. We are incredibly conscious of efficiency and doing whatever we can to produce in the most efficient, least-wasteful way possible. As for our ingredients, we source our cashews from organic cashew farms in Vietnam, and the CEO of Premier Organics, who is our business partner, makes frequent visits to these farms to ensure their practices are ethically and environmentally sound. This way, we can bring our customers the highest quality product possible. And whenever we can source locally, we do, but since the main ingredients in our products cannot be grown here, we source from these organic farms abroad.
Q: Mr. Dewie’s is a local Bay Area company, based out of Oakland, but how far is the reach of your products and are there plans for expansion in the future?
A: Our current reach is from Seattle to San Diego and then into Idaho and Arizona. Our plan is to expand to the Rocky Mountains in the near future. Ideally we will be able to expand into both health food and mainstream markets, but we are still at a price point that is more suitable for the health food sector. We are also in the process of transitioning away from our almond milk and replacing it with the cashew milk, which is not only cheaper to manufacture but actually produces a creamier, more flavorful ice cream.
Whether you have dietary restrictions, or you are simply looking for a tasty and comparable alternative to traditional dairy ice cream, pick up a pint of one of Mr. Dewie’s nut milk products next time you are craving something sweet!