Murray always wanted to create a decadent, premium ice cream with a “lot of butter fat, a really rich delicious thing” that would make people “want to break their diets for ice cream.” It was his wife, a pediatrician, who recommended adding probiotics to the product after her positive experience with the microorganisms in her practice.
Thus Foxy’s Thoughtful Ice Cream was born, named after his wife’s nickname, which launched at Expo West this year and it garnered a lot of interest. Still in its embryonic stage, Murray said he was excited and thrilled by the reaction toward his product at the show, which was “better than we could have possibly hoped.”
With less sugar than most ice cream brands, the ice cream has won the attention of Whole Foods Market, Fresh and Easy, and Albertsons in the Pacific North West, and is officially sold in around 100 independent stores throughout the US.
In China, the ice cream is sold at Carrefour, and is expanding to Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.
“Frozen yogurt in America comes from a machine”
Murray's freezer aisle entrepreneurial endeavors actually started eight years ago in Australia, where together with a college mate, he launched the same-named Foxy’s frozen yogurt brand.
Looking at companies from an ad agency perspective (his friend/business partner owned an ad agency), Murray reminisced: “His customers that want to pay the bills aren’t creative at all, and the ones that couldn’t pay the bills were really creative. We sat around and wondered how can we create his best customer?”
Brainstorming sessions led to ideas of companies from coffee to clothing brands, but after a night of some whiskey, they decided to create something “our wives and families would really enjoy. We weren’t going to be firemen—that’s what the kids would love come career day—but we thought of being the ice cream man.”
So in 2008, they launched a frozen yogurt brand, which they believed to be a healthier option, and branded it in a sleek, trendy way, with flavors like “naughty” and “cheeky.” But when Murray relocated to the US, his pediatrician wife’s homeland, it was hard for the Foxy’s frozen yogurt brand to kick off.
“Frozen yogurt in America comes from a machine. Buying it in a pint to take home hasn’t really taken off,” he said. After experiencing losses in 2011, Murray thought he should use what he learned from the experience to create something that would create a blast in the US market, and he knew it was ice cream.
Murray worked with Orange County-based Custom Probiotics to get the strains in the ice cream, which are L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. salivarius, L. rhamnosus, B. lactis, and B. biffidum., chosen because of the solid academic literature on the strains as well as their ability to survive through the digestive tract, Murray said.
Adding probiotics to ice cream is a relatively new thing, as scientists have been looking for ways to find new delivery formats for the little bugs to survive the human digestive system. “We add the probiotics at the very last stage, just before it goes into the pot,” Murray said. “They immediately go into a dormant state in the freezing process so they don’t do anything to the milk.”
Explore the probiotic scientific frontier, its evolution and commercial application in food, supplements and related product area at the IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas. The event will be held in Chicago at the end of May. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
According to the website, there are at least 1 billion probiotics per serving. The website also touts how studies have shown probiotics can assist digestion, immunity, mood, and protein absorption.
Targeting 'Middle America'
Murray said that the militant, health warrior wasn’t exactly who he was targeting. At $5.99 a pint, Murray is targeting what he calls “Middle America.”
“We got a lot of input that we should be shouting about the probiotics more than what we’re doing,” he said. “But I told them, not for us. We want to remain accessible to Middle America, and Middle America isn’t quite ready for kombucha. America still wants to buy ice cream.”
He said that the less sugar, probiotic-infusion messaging was intentionally subtle. The ingredients are also thoughtfully sourced, such as small-batch made marshmallows from California, fair trade vanilla and cherries from Oregon farmers. But all of this is explained subtly on the package’s romance text. “We want people to go out and buy it because it’s good ice cream,” he added.
And the flavors? “They’re totally selfish!” he chuckled. “These are flavors I’ve always wanted to have.” At the moment, Foxy’s Ice Cream comes in 11 flavors: Salted Caramel Organic Toffee, Coco-nut & Coco-late – Uncle Mike’s Double Chocolate, Rocky Road Less Traveled, Gluten Free Cookie Dough, Hazelnut Latte, Rather Thoughtful Vanilla, Totapuri Mango, 15 Mile Pistachio, 6 mile Almond & Honey, and Oregon Cherry Vanilla.