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J.P. Licks to unveil non-dairy ice cream this spring, including hemp-based line

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  March 1, 2012 09:00 AM

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Jamaica Plain-based frozen dessert chain J.P. Licks plans to soon launch a new line of non-dairy, gluten-free, vegan, kosher-certified ice cream, including hemp-based flavors.

The hemp flavors will debut on April 20, a date that some celebrate by smoking, vaporizing or otherwise consuming cannabis.

Made from hemp seeds, the hemp-based ice cream flavors will contain no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, company officials said. THC is an ingredient in marijuana that can induce a “high” feeling when ingested.

“For some people, it’s too bad because the seeds don’t have THC in them, so you can’t get high on eating the ice cream,” J.P. Licks’ founder and owner Vince Petryk said by phone.

“But, still, there’s a novelty to it for some people,” he said, citing how hemp-based ice cream has “kind of a nutty flavor.”

The first line of non-dairy ice cream will be coconut-based flavors that the local company plans to debut at all of its locations in early March, said Petryk, confirming recent reports about the new non-dairy line on the WickedLocal website and in other local media. Soy-based flavors are set to be released in May.

Each of the three hand-made-from-scratch base types will be sweetened with brown rice and agave syrups. Though Petryk expects the new dessert types will cost the company more to make, the non-dairy flavors will be sold for the same price as regular, dairy ice cream, at least for now. They will be available in cups, cones, or hand-packed pint- or quart-sized containers.

“There’s been a demand [for non-dairy ice cream] for years from customers,” he said, noting how in the mid-1980s his now three-decade-old business for a few months tried offering some soy-and-tofu-based flavors that failed to take off.

“It wasn’t very good, so we stopped selling it,” he said of versions of non-dairy ice cream the company experimented with three decades ago.

“Since then, of course, more and more people are eating vegan and more people are lactose intolerant.”

And, after three years of working on non-dairy flavors, Petryk said he believes his company has "finally gotten them to the point where they’re good enough to serve. People want it to taste as close to ice cream as possible. And, just like with our ice cream, we can make it better than what they sell in supermarkets.”

When the first batches of the coconut-flavors debut next week, on March 6, he said the company will offer a free tasting from 3 to 6 p.m. at all of its locations, and anyone who wants to buy more beyond the tasting can do so for half price during those hours.

The first three coconut flavors will be Coconut Almond Lace, Chocolate Coconut and Pineapple Coconut.

He said similar promotions can be expected for when the hemp-based and soy-based flavors launch in April and May, respectively.

And, the owner of the local chain, which has 10 locations in the Boston-area and an 11th planned to open this spring, said he is currently experimenting with non-dairy, rice-based ice cream that he hopes to release someday if he can perfect that combination.

“When I started off 30 years ago, it was ice cream and sorbet. Then we added frozen yogurt and lactose free and tart frozen yogurt,” Petryk said. “There’s so many different types of frozen treats I offer now that I don’t want to forget about the ice cream – that’s still our focus.”

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