“We like to describe frozen pudding as ice cream’s rich cousin. It is a richer, creamier version of ice cream that can be enjoyed on hot summer days without worrying about it melting and turning into soup” if you don’t eat it fast enough because when it thaws it still tastes and feels like pudding, said Jason Kessler who, along with Hannah Canvasser, launched little spoon frozen pudding in the fall of 2015.
He explained that frozen pudding, like most inventions, was created out of necessity when, one night, Canvasser made an overabundance of banana pudding for an outdoor movie viewing. Not wanting to waste the leftovers, the two froze the pudding. However, their hopes of eating a delicious frozen treat later were dashed when the creamy consistency of the pudding became rock hard in the freezer.
Not one to shy from a challenge, Canvasser worked for months to perfect a method to recreate the texture of ice cream when the pudding was frozen but which remained creamy when thawed.
The end result is a dessert that is perfect for “parents with kids who they take to the beach, people who love food and are looking for something different, and anyone who loves ice cream and wants to beat the clock when they try to enjoy ice cream and it starts to melt,” said Kessler.
A clean product for modern consumers
The dessert also is ideal for “anyone who likes to indulge in a sweet treat, but who wants to make sure their treat is natural,” Kessler noted.
He explained that having a clean label is important to the little spoon because it not only is the way that he and Canvasser like to eat, but the way that most consumers increasingly like to eat.
“People care a lot more about what goes into their foods and their bodies. They don’t want it to be a science experiment,” he said, adding that is why their frozen pudding does not have the synthetic ingredients and other “junk” that can be found in some shelf stable puddings on the market – although it does use guar gum as a stabilizer.
“We want it to be as simple as if your grandma made it on the stovetop,” only frozen, he said.
Banking on nostalgia
Invoking a sense of nostalgia – such as that conjured from childhood of a grandmother making pudding on the stovetop – is a key element of little spoon’s marketing strategy that plays out from the products’ packaging to its flavors, Kessler said.
“The nostalgia factor is huge for us. I grew up eating chocolate pudding after school all the time and I wanted to bring that back,” but with a modern twist and clean label, Kessler said.
To that end, the company chose flavors that are reminiscent of childhood and the mid-century, including nana banana, campfire chocolate, caramel latte, coconut cream pie and brown sugar vanilla.
In addition, the frozen pudding is packed in 3.8 ounce individual serving-size cups that are designed to be “as clean and simple as our recipes,” Kessler said. He added that the duo chose smaller cups “because people aren’t used to pudding pints.”
While that may be the case, the company is open to creating pints in the future along with pudding pops for a variety of ways to share and enjoy frozen pudding, he said.
Scaling up and seeking a partnership
However, before the company can do that it needs to scale up its production and distribution, which is now available nationwide online and in a few select specialty stores.
“We would love to be in every single grocery store, but we will be rolling out slowly at a pace we can handle,” Kessler said. Thanks to a new facility that means a maximum capacity of 4,000 cups a day – a huge increase over the 500 cups a month that the duo previously could produce.
As the company scales up, little spoon hopes to switch to organic and non-GMO ingredients with its savings from paying less for larger, bulk ingredient orders, Kessler said.
To help the company reach its goals, Kessler said little spoon hopes to team with a strategic partner, such as a larger food brand with a proven track record in the frozen dessert space, either as an investor or an acquirer.
He noted that while the little spoon has a lot of potential and the team is excited to expand, “we haven’t been here before, so figuring everything out for the first time is difficult.”