Food & Wine Magazine says, “No one else makes ice cream like Jeni Britton Bauer.” And I agree, one thousand percent! If you have not tried Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, you absolutely should! It is truly THE best ice cream on the planet – and I’m not being paid to say that! All of us at Nashville Wraps are so honored to partner with Jeni’s and provide their custom printed “sturdy, timeless, no-nonsense bags”!
So how did this amazing ice cream business start? Well, in the mid ‘90s Jeni mixed cayenne pepper into store-bought chocolate ice cream and she was hooked. She had worked in a bakery and spent a lot of time blending perfumes and collecting essential oils. She transferred this love to mixing ice cream in magnificent flavor combinations.
Jeni explains, “I started making ice cream in the public market (the North Market) in Columbus, Ohio. I’d been studying art and art history at Ohio State University and had pink hair. That was 1996, and I was 22 years old.” That business didn’t work out but she learned a whole lot.
Splendid Ice Cream from Coast to Coast
She opened Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002 in the North Market. Today they have 17 shops and have pints in more than 1,700 grocery stores coast to coast, and ship to homes in all 50 states through their online store. Along the way, Jeni also wrote two cookbooks.
What sets Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream apart from the competition is their mission to only use the highest quality ingredients in completely unique and fun flavor combinations. Unlike most ice cream (including ice cream made by many small ice creameries), Jeni’s ice cream includes no stabilizers to texturize and extend shelf life. They use no eggs, no condensed or powdered milk, and none of the stabilizing guar gum or carrageenan commonly found on ice cream labels. The flavor and texture is from grass-fed Ohio cows’ milk alone.
Today, Jeni and her dedicated kitchen team makes every ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt from the ground up with grass-grazed milk, local produce, American bean-to-bar chocolate and select ingredients from around the world, including exquisite Fair-Trade-Certified African vanilla and Dutch cocoa.
Salty Caramel has been the most popular flavor since the day Jeni opened Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002. They make the caramel from scratch in their Ohio kitchen. Other popular flavors are Brambleberry Crisp, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Almond Brittle.
Ferocious About Quality
“It’s the details and being ferocious about quality,” says Jeni. “We source and process our ingredients with an obsessive focus on flavor and consistency. We use whole fields of strawberries, sweet potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables grown near our kitchen in Columbus. We also collaborate with people making special ingredients. For Yazoo Sue with Rosemary Bar Nuts, we use cherry wood-smoked porter beer by Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Co., grass-grazed Ohio milk, and fistfuls of almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pecans dusted with rosemary, brown sugar, and cayenne.”
Popular perennial flavors include Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam (with Peach Truck peaches), Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows (late Fall), Dark Chocolate Peppermint (winter/holidays), Savannah Buttermint (Spring), and my personal favorite Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries (late Summer).
Jeni’s does very little traditional advertising. They have found word of mouth is much more effective. They are experts at social media marketing. Every photo is work of art, just like the ice cream. See for yourself on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube recipe videos.
A Scoop of Heaven on Earth
You can find Jeni’s scoop shops in Columbus, Cleveland, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston and New York City. The passion the employees have for ice cream, their company and their mission is so strong. The hardest part when visiting Jeni’s is deciding upon a flavor, and with each “free sample” the decision gets tougher. My advice is to go with several friends so you can all share.
Jeni’s receives a lot of requests to open shops. With no plans to franchise, they own and operate each and every scoop shop. They focus their store openings on dense populations of people who care about what goes into their ice cream. They like pedestrian-friendly, vibrant neighborhoods like Nashville’s 12 South District and East Nashville.
When Jeni isn’t developing new flavors, working on a book, or art directing new campaigns, she devotes time to Local Matters – the fresh-food-for-all Columbus-based non-profit she co-founded.
Let us know your favorite Jeni’s flavor in the comments below. I guarantee you will not find a more splendid ice cream on the planet, or in the universe, for that matter.