Trinidadian Canadians with long memories will no doubt remember Sweet N’ Nice, a traditional San Fernando and southern Trinidad ice cream. The sweet news is that many major supermarket chains in Ontario are stocking this Caribbean- style ice cream – or about to do so.
Some 80 years ago, Charles Neale was a fixture on the streets of Trinidad. He created ice cream flavours from the fruits that grow in Trinidad such as guava, pineapple, and paw paw,.Selling from an icebox attached to his bike, he would pedal his way through the streets, calling out to the kids to “Come get your Sweet N’ Nice Ice Cream.”
Neale is gone now but his daughter, Rose, and his grandchildren are using his original recipes to give ice cream lovers “an all-natural product. “The family, based in Vaughan, north of Toronto, has big plans to introduce island- flavoured ice creams to all Canadians, and, maybe, just maybe, re-introduce the Charles Neale brand back in Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the Caribbean.
For the past seven years this ice cream has been available in stores in Scarborough and the GTA that cater to the diaspora. Now thanks to some newly inked agreements with food stores including Sobeys, Urban Fresh, FreshCo, Foodland, NoFrills, Superstore and Metro, it is available or (will soon be) in store freezers across the GTA and Ontario.
“This summer we are expanding our line-up of flavours – mango, coconut, rum & raisin, guava, passion fruit and pineapple, just in time for summer,” the company’s CEO, Andrew McBarnett, told The Caribbean Camera. “It is all about the island taste, and because of the diversity here, people already know about these flavours or if they don’t, they are not afraid to try them.”
“The trend these days is all about natural products. Foodies are willing to give passion fruit, pineapple, coconut, pink guava, even prunes a try,” he continued. “We try to source as much of our ingredients from the Caribbean as possible. The reality is that not a lot of Caribbean countries are still farming for export.”
McBarnett was born, raised and schooled in Trinidad before moving to the UK to further his business education. He got married and eventually moved to Canada and became an expert in the field of Loyalty Programs. An appearance on CBC’s Dragon’s Den vaulted him into the Ice Cream business.
“Most of the family is now in Canada, although Auntie Rose is still in Trinidad. She is my granddaddy’s daughter. So she has many many other recipes that we can develop as Caribbean Ice Creams begins its domination of the world,” joked the CEO.