• By: Kat Walcott

Ice cream is a family affair with Neale’s Sweet N’ Nice

It’s officially fall but if you are not ready to say goodbye to summer don’t worry, with Neale’s Sweet N’ Nice you don’t have to. Now available in Ottawa, this Canadian brand is more than just a creamy sweet treat — it’s about family legacy.

The story of Neale’s starts back in the 1940s on the beautiful Caribbean island of Trinidad when Charles A. Neale began selling his homemade ice cream from a bicycle so that he could make enough money to send his 12 children to school. Neale’s delicious ice cream soon became a hit throughout his community.

Neale passed his art of ice cream making to one of his daughters but, after his death in the 1980s, she immigrated to Canada and didn’t pursue it any further. But that was not the end of the story for this very special ice cream.

In 2012, at a summertime family reunion, a couple of Neale’s grandchildren along with their Aunt Rosemarie were enjoying some ice cream and came to revelation — they needed to revive Grandad Neale’s ice cream legacy.

This led to the launch of Neale’s Sweet N’ Nice, in 2015. Marrying the flavours of Charles A. Neale’s original recipes and high-quality Canadian dairy, the family has created something very special. Starting small in Toronto, the ice cream is now available countrywide.

We chatted with company co-founders Andrew McBarnett (CEO and Neale’s grandson) and Rosemarie Wilson (Head of Production and Operations and Neale’s daughter) all about this exciting family endeavour.

Ottawa Life: What inspired you to revive Grandpa Neale’s ice cream business?

Andrew McBarnett: When I moved to Toronto [from the UK] I was never able to purchase a great mango or coconut ice cream at the supermarkets. Every time our family would gather, or I would visit Aunty Rose and she would always prepare Sweet N' Nice ice cream for us from scratch. After a family reunion, I shared the idea with my cousin Stafford to re-start our granddad’s business, and with Aunty Rose we were able to bring granddad’s recipes and legacy back to life.

Ottawa Life: Your ice cream really stands out because of it’s fresh, tropical flavours and use of high quality ingredients. Why was it important for you guys to develop not only a good product, but a REALLY good product?

Rosemarie Wilson: A value my father instilled in us growing up is, “If something is worth doing, give it your best.” He was a man that strove for excellence and inspired us to do the same. 'Mediocre' was not part of his vocabulary. He created a product that was the best there was on the island in his day. If we are to truly honor his legacy, we could not do anything less. 

McBarnett: It is important for us to have a quality and authentic product that stands apart from any other ice cream on the freezer shelves. Our goal is to hear the Caribbean diaspora say, “this tastes like home” and bring it back to their families to enjoy.

Ottawa Life: Talking about flavours, I’m really looking forward to the upcoming soursop flavour! Being of Caribbean parentage myself, I grew up with soursop, but it’s a pretty foreign flavour to most Canadians. What’s the story behind that one?

Wilson: Coconut and Soursop were the primary flavours Daddy [Charles Neale] created on a regular basis. Soursop was readily available, most people would have a soursop tree growing on their grounds. The leaves were also used to make a naturally smooth, flavourful tea and the pulp, when combined with milk, creates a rich, unique flavour — perfect for ice cream.

McBarnett: That's right, soursop is a well loved Caribbean drink. In Trinidad you have it with milk and it's creamy and delicious. As an ice cream, it's even better. We think every Canadian will embrace soursop once they try it. It’s actually growing in popularity as a superfood.

Neale’s Sweet N’ Nice is available now in six flavours at Sobey’s, Loblaw’s, No Frills, Urban Fresh, Provigo and online.

Photos: Kat Walcott