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McClatchy-Tribune  07/06/2014 11:20 AM ET
Yuengling's revived ice cream catches on [Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa. :: ]

July 06--Yuengling's ice cream, reintroduced by the family-owned beer brewery in Pottsville in time for the summer, has been a hot seller, says Chief Operating Officer Bob Carlson.

"We're doing incredibly well. It's among top selling flavors of every retailer we work with," said Carlson, a resident of Nashua, New Hampshire, whose office is in Orwigsburg.

"We'll continue to grow. The best selling flavor is black and tan, then vanilla, root beer, vanilla fudge with pretzels and chocolate brownie fudge. What we've done is capture the old time popularity of Yuengling's ice cream from years ago and married it with some new exciting developments."

The black and tan, which carries the same name of one of Yuengling's leading beer brands, is a swirl of Belgian chocolate and caramel ice cream. Carlson said some seasonally themed flavors may be added.

Its ice cream brand is kosher, PA Preferred and uses natural ingredients without preservatives.

Giant supermarket in Bartonsville and Weis supermarkets in Hawley and Honesdale are the area locations carrying it. Check for area stores that sell it.

Wegman's is a leading supplier among the more than 1,000 stores carrying it, and it's carried throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware. Maryland and West Virginia as well as central to western Ohio, northern New Jersey and upstate New York. There recently was a limited launch in New England.

"There are some very strong retailers in New England working with us to help grow the brand," Carlson said. "New England is a particular focus of growth after Pennsylvania, where we really appreciate the support of or home state consumers."

Cautious growth

As for national distribution, Carlson said the product has "cautious growth with a very strong base. Consumer acceptance is very, very strong. We want to make sure we service customers locally the best way we possibly can and build momentum from the center out."

Carlson said there have been calls of people asking for the product, particularly from Florida, from older consumers who grew up enjoying Yuengling's ice cream until the late 1980s, when it was taken off the shelves. "They really want the product and are clamoring for it," Carlson said.

Yuengling's was a big seller for 60 years from the 1920s, when the Yuengling family started it to keep their business going through Prohibition.

It continued to sell until around 1989, when the brand went out of business. Company President David Yuengling decided to revive the ice cream on a suggestion from family friend Rob Bohorad, a Pottsville resident who recently became the company's chief financial officer.

"For years, people have been asking me to bring back Yuengling's ice cream," said Yuengling. "After 30 years in corporate America, I wanted to pursue something entrepreneurial and also make a difference in people's lives. It's something I've always wanted to do, and I couldn't be happier about carrying on the family tradition."

Family owned

Carlson said the key is that Yuengling's ice cream is family owned by an American company, as opposed to Ben & Jerry's, where he worked previously, which was taken over in 2000 by the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever. He also cited Haagen Dazs, first established in the Bronx in 1961 and now owned by Nestle, a Swiss company.

Carlson also worked previously with Brigham's, an ice cream company with a more old fashioned, traditional approach based in Arlington, Mass. Carlson was responsible for regional and national sales, product development and vendor operations, which he also will handle at his current position.

"This is different because it's a product in a startup but it's a restock," said Carlson, who has a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and a Graduate Certificate in Leadership Development, Management and Marketing from Harvard. "I've done a number of startups that scaled well, and this one is better than any I've ever done. It has the most potential for consumer takeaway and the value we create for consumers.

"Working with startup and early-stage companies for the past 15 years has certainly helped in getting the company off the ground," Bohorad said. "David and I complement each other nicely and have similar values. And it doesn't hurt that we both love ice cream."


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