How A Father And Son Teamed Up to Infuse The Family Ice Business with Cannabis
Last winter at MJBiz Con in Las Vegas, the longest line at the convention was for a tiny Italian Ice stall, where two guys shoveled free samples of cherry and lemon ices into little cups. The guys were Al and Troy Everetts, a father and son team from Pennsylvania. And the product they were serving for the first time ever was called Mt. Everetts Frozen Creations -- traditional Italian Ices infused with non-traditional CBD.
This was the last place on earth the two ever expected to be -- at a marijuana convention three thousand miles from the family's Italian Ice and custard shop in the small town of Kingston.
How they got there and why is a story of a good idea, good timing, and good recipes.
Rocky Mountain high
The idea for Mt. Everetts Frozen Creations was hatched by Troy, 24, during a road trip to Denver with his girlfriend (now wife). Troy had never been to Colorado, and he was blown away by all the recreational pot shops and offerings. "I saw like 20 brands of edible chocolate there," he says. "Business was crazy. It was just booming."
When he returned home, he told his father, Al, about what he'd seen. Al describes himself as "an R&D guy who's been making ices for 25 years." He's a VP at Rosati Ice and owns a local Italian Ice shop called Josie's on S. Wyoming Avenue.
Troy said, "Dad, you make the best Italian Ice. Let's see if we can get into this business."
Al was skeptical. He was an Italian Ice guy. What did he know from cannabis? He had very little personal experience with the plant, although he did have memories of his older brother talking to him about it in the 70s. "I was 12 and he was 17," Al says. "He'd be reading High Times all the time. He'd say, 'I'm telling you, Al. This should be legal. It's good for you.'"
Despite his early doubts, Al loved his son and admired his enthusiasm, so he agreed to go to Colorado "to wrap my head around it." He, too, was impressed by the business, so he started doing research and asking around. "Everybody kept coming back to me saying, 'Listen, you'll never get the (CBD) oil in the water. Good luck. Go ahead and try it,'" Al recalls.
Undeterred, Al set off to do what he does best. "I just spent a lot of time testing things and working with different ingredients," he says.
Because CBD oil is expensive, he did lots of calculations and mixing processes on paper and in his head before he put oil to ice. After six weeks, Al concocted the perfect process and formula for CBD-infused ice.
"I break the oil up into real, small particles, almost like nanoparticles," Al says. He believes the process gives the ice more bang for the buck and makes it more effective therapeutically.
Al created three flavors: Lemon, which he describes as the most traditional flavor in the Italian Ice business. "That's the flavor that most everybody does on the street corners in New York. Mango, which Al says has taken off in popularity in the last in the 20 years. And cherry, a tried-and-true favorite.
After perfecting his formula, Al sent the ices off to a lab in California to be tested.
"I'll never forget the response," he says. "They called me and, for the first minute, they must have said the F-word like 10 times. They said, 'We melted it. We froze it. We beat it up and your numbers are spot on. You're real consistent.' They told me I should go teach some of the bigger companies how to be more consistent."
In cannabis, consistency is king. When people like a product, they want it to taste the same and make them feel the same every time.
They went on to test his product for pesticides and again were surprised that he came out completely negative.
With the winning formula complete, the next challenge was raising enough money to start the business. This is when another father-son team (who remain anonymous) stepped in to partner with the Everetts. Those investors introduced them to Two Roots, a major cannabis-infused beer company, who invited them to Las Vegas to debut their new product.
Ice, Ice Baby
Troy admits to being overwhelmed by the response at MJBiz Con, saying, "We weren't sure how the ice was going to do in the West Coast. They don't really know what Italian Ice is out there. But people went crazy. They wanted to get orders ASAP.
To date, the Everetts have shipped orders to dispensaries in California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Florida. They sell the product online, but at this point only to people in the East Coast.
Al is thrilled with the early success, but he's even more thrilled to be working with his son.
"It's great," he says. "We work well together because he has this strengths and I have my strengths. He's a marketing guy; he's the social media guy. You know these young kids with the computers and everything. Put me in the kitchen. That's where I'm going to go."