Tasty Ice Cream Makes Dieters Break the Rules

WEEKLY BRIEFING

Third-generation ice cream maker John Fosselman, owner of Alhambra-based Fosselman's Ice Cream Co., says his 16 percent butterfat ice cream will never go low-fat. When people come to his stores, he says, they know they're cheating on their diets, so they figure they might as well go all out. That doesn't mean the company hasn't adjusted to changing times. He has repositioned, with his brother and co-owner, Chris to focus more on wholesale accounts than retailing.

"This is our 85th year in business. It was started by my grandfather in Waverly, Iowa. He thought California would be a good place to sell ice cream so he moved the whole family to Pasadena. He was probably much bigger than we are now, but the Depression killed him. Milk and dairy prices got so high he couldn't maintain all the infrastructure, so he sold it and started all over again at our store in Alhambra.

"My uncles and dad ran it for 40 years but my brother Chris and I bought them out in the 1990s. My uncles and dad were much more involved in the retail business and locations in Glendale, Alhambra, Pasadena and Highland Park. My dad always told us it's hard work to be in retail and we should go into wholesale. So we went into selling to hotels and restaurants, but we still have the Alhambra retail store.

"We can custom-make flavors for chefs who want to pair ice cream with a souffl & #233; or for weddings. They can come to us with ideas off-the-wall ideas or regular ideas. Like, we make Tequila Sorbet for El Chollo. We can make it and sell it just to them.

"We've grown about 10 percent every year since we took over. That slow steady growth works for us. Chris and I used to do everything, sell it, scoop it, deliver it. But as the business grows we've started using other people. We have about 15 people working for us. Four are full-time and the rest are basically kids that help us with prepping the ice cream or out in the retail store. It's always myself or Chris, though, who makes the ice cream. It's not a secret recipe but we want to make sure it's made the way we want it.

"I've probably eaten ice cream every day of my life. My dad was the same way, he ate it daily. At least we like what we make. My dad taught us to make a quality product and stick with it. If you make it so good that they can't resist it, then they'll keep coming back."

Kim Holmes

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