Philip R’s Frozen Desserts made headlines in 2010 with its award-winning Lollibons (picture an ice cream lollipop or a cake pop on a stick). The Swiss vanilla almond Lollibon was selected as a silver finalist for Outstanding Perishable Foodservice Product in the 2010 sofi Awards from the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. In 2011, the novelty received a top award from the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product contest in the creative and innovative class.
Philip R’s (owned by the Rotondos, Philip Sr. and Philip Jr.) launched the Lollibons at the 2009 National Restaurant Association Show. It is the company’s first product to be sold at retail. Whole Foods stores in the northeast carry Lollibons, and Philip Jr. says he would like to expand nationally. The lollipop-shaped novelty has a rich creme anglaise ice cream base covered in pure Belgian chocolate.
“We originally introduced Lollibons because of the economic downturn. Plated ice cream desserts were losing ground to other pastry options (i.e., the wedding cake) and I was looking for a fun new way to get ice cream back on the menus as an addition to the cake,” Philip Jr. explains. “This turned out to be just what the banquets were looking for. With the success of our banquet business as well as winning multiple awards, we saw a need for a fun decadent treat for the retail markets. We launched the Lollibons retail about a year ago.”
Father and son launched the Winchester, Mass.-based company in 1996, years before the development of the Lollibon. After Philip Sr. ate some not-very-palatable lemon sorbet, the foodservice industry veteran figured he could do better. Philip Jr. had recently graduated from college and the two decided they could meet a market need with Philip R’s Simply Sorbets.
Initially focused on the Boston market, Philip Jr. recalls that those early years were a bit challenging.
“At that time,” he says, “most chefs had no idea even what a sorbet was. I hit the pavement and just started a grassroots campaign to teach chefs that sorbets were an upscale non-dairy alternative to sherbets. We started getting the product on more and more menus.”
And clients soon began requesting ice cream and other frozen treats, so the company evolved its name and production to meet the demand. Today, the company’s treats can be found in the top hotels and with caterers throughout the country. The pre-portioned ice cream and sorbet scoops have been the most successful, says Philip Jr. Chefs can choose any scoop size and flavor combination.
“We are currently servicing a large restaurant chain that serves our product nationally,” he adds. This model has helped the company grow its national customer base. “We are small enough to do custom flavors in different scoop sizes,” says Philip Jr., “but large enough to handle accounts that could use 5,000 scoops of a select flavor.”
“What sets our pre-portioned scoops apart from other companies is the quality of product,” he explains. “We make our ice cream in the classic French style of a fresh creme anglaise base of cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks and skim milk. Our sorbets are made with 80% fruit, and to this day, we still hand squeeze lemons for our lemon sorbet.”
Recognizable desserts, such as its Simply Sorbet mini-fruit shapes and Mini Cone Painters Palette have also caught the attention of banquet and hotel chefs. The former are molded sorbets in the shape of actual fruit while the latter are mini-cones hand-scooped in a trio of flavors of ice cream or sorbet.
Finding a market niche and responding to the economy with innovative ice cream products has kept father and son on a roll.