Guava-passionfruit, creamy rum raisin, and tasty pineapple-coconut are just a few of the delicious flavours blazing a trail across Canadian freezers by family-owned ice-cream company, Sweet N Nice.
A Black-owned business new to Canada but known for their delicious cool treats in their home of Southern Trinidad, Sweet N Nice was started on the island in the 40’s by Charles Neale.
With 13 mouths to feed at home, Neale relied on the ice-cream making skills he honed in childhood to build his knack for producing fully-flavoured desserts into a lucrative business. The enterprising family man soon became known for the bike he rode through various neighbourhoods to sell his frozen desserts, calling out “Sweet N Nice! Sweet N Nice!” to his loyal patrons.
For over 30 years, Neale served his tropical ice cream, changing the ice cream industry with his high quality ice creams in Trinidad.
Now his daughter, grandson, and nephew are on a mission to extend Neale’s legacy by delighting the senses of Canadians with the company’s range of tropical frozen treats.
Sweet N Nice products are now widely available at mainstream grocers, and on social media the brand is enjoying a unique moment with Caribbean, South American, and South Asian foodies sharing their enthusiasm for the exotically-flavoured treats that evoke a sense of home.
Similarly, those unfamiliar with the tastes of guava, passionfruit, and rum raisin are finding it hard to choose a favourite when they head to the freezer section to pick up a pint of Neale’s secret recipe ice-creams. The brand is truly enjoying a renaissance in Canada’s most diverse cities that Grandpa Neale would surely approve of.
We spoke with Andrew Neale, Co-founder of the growing business to talk about his family, entrepreneurship, and the one flavour the wants everyone to try.
What inspired Sweet N Nice?
Sweet N Nice was inspired by my grandfather Charles Alfred Neale who ran the first company in Trinidad from 1946 to late ‘80s until his passing. Since then the family moved to Canada in the late ‘80s and enjoyed the ice cream at family get togethers. When I moved back to Canada from London in 2011 I convinced my cousin Stafford and my Aunt to to restart the company in Toronto based on our grandfather recipes and create a family legacy.
What sets Sweet N Nice ice cream apart from others in the market?
We’re real ice cream made with Canadian cream (dairy) and 100% tropical fruits. Our ice cream tastes like good old fashion, home made ice cream. In addition to this we’re an all natural ice cream.
What’s your favourite flavour?
My favourite flavour rum & raisin, which is classic Caribbean flavour, but on other days I love coconut and enjoy it with my favourite dessert – apple strudel – I know that’s not Caribbean but that’s the Londoner in me.
What challenges have you faced building the Sweet N Nice business?
Lot of challenges in building a food business in Toronto – finding funding for a new company starting off and growing the company. It took a while to crack into the larger food chains especially as the frozen section is so competitive and the shelf space is limited. In addition we had lots of challenges with finding a company to assist with distribution being a frozen food.
What advice would you give to other Black Food entrepreneurs?
It may sound corny but keep pursuing your dream – don’t give up. Building a food business takes a lot effort, determination and being persistent for when opportunities do come. Create a local focus first, engage within the community for support (we did with independent Caribbean stores) before branching out to a wider customer base. Finally engage with other food entrepreneurs to gain from their first hand experience, knowledge and network.
Where can ice cream lovers find Sweet N’ Nice?
We’re currently in Sobeys, Sobeys Urban Fresh, Freshco, Longos, No Frills , Coppa’s, Foodland and Metro. You can find a full listing of the stores on our site.
Sweet N Nice ice cream is also available all summer long at Stackt Market in our Sweet N Nice pop up ice cream shop located at 28 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5V 0C6 (Parking at 3 Tecumseth St. Toronto).