You probably weren’t aware, but you can make ice cream at home without a traditional ice cream maker or a headache-inducing list of directions. Thanks to True Scoops, you can simply pour a tasty mix in a bowl with half & half, blend it, and freeze your mixture for a few hours to indulge in the tasty treat of your choice. Catering to your sweet tooth has never been so simple and fun — for kids and adults alike.
Trinidadian ice cream entrepreneur Shelly Marshall, along with partner Kelly Williamson, is behind the operation. Marshall’s concoctions are already widely known in Brooklyn, New York, where her popular ice cream shop, Island Pops, stands in the Crown Heights neighborhood. She was inspired during the pandemic, while trying to find something fun to do with her kids, to bring about a way for people to make ice cream with help from a product they could find on the shelf instead of in a freezer. The end result is the array of True Scoops mixes, in flavors of chocolate, vanilla, salted butterscotch, hot fudge, and soon enough, strawberry.
We were intrigued and delighted by the idea of shelf-stable mixes that still manage to turn out to be creamy scoops of ice cream. We spoke with Marshall about it, the inspiration for True Scoops, and what’s next for her as a Black woman having success in all things icy. Get inspired (and a little hungry).
ESSENCE: First Island Pops, now True Scoops. It begs the question, where did this love for icy treats and the desire to revolutionize how people eat them come from? What was the inspiration for True Scoops?
Shelly Marshall: Island Pops was started back in 2015 after I got sick with chikungunya after a holiday in Trinidad at my parent’s home. I was delirious with high fever and was craving soursop ice cream, so I sent my then-boyfriend (now husband) Khalid out to the store to get a pint. There was literally just one brand that was selling Caribbean-inspired ice cream and not in the way that we were used to back in the Islands, so after I recovered I decided that I would be the one to fill the gap in the market and that’s when Island Pops was officially born.
Fast forward six years later to the height of the pandemic. I found myself much like every other parent, struggling to find new things for the kids to do at home. One day we decided to make ourselves some homemade ice cream at the house, a real family activity, or so I thought. As an ice cream maker you would think I’d realize how so not kid-friendly making ice cream at home is. You have to heat milk, cream, and sugar then add tempered eggs to the base. Age the base overnight or for at least four hours and then churn in an ice cream maker. Well, let me tell you, my kids did not like the waiting part. They didn’t want to wait four hours to be able to finally churn the ice cream and why should they?The process was just too long and drawn out even for my liking.
I wondered how easy it could be if we could just pour a powdered mix into a bowl, whisk in some type of liquid and then churn it in the ice cream maker. That’s when the idea of True Scoops was born. But you can actually make True Scoops just as easily without an ice cream machine, too. I wanted to combine Betty Crocker with your favorite pint of ice cream to create really premium, homemade ice cream that was comparable to something you would buy at the grocery store.
How are you able to make this a shelf-friendly option for people to make ice cream at home?
We compared the ingredients behind a pint of premium ice cream and used the powdered version of those ingredients to make up the unique formula of our products. We swapped heavy cream for sweet cream powder, milk for non-fat dry milk powder, and eggs for guar gum. That’s how we’re able to create a shelf-stable product that lasts up to 18 months in the pantry.
You have traditional beloved flavors now. Do you think you’ll include some Caribbean-inspired options down the line?
I think we can play around with Caribbean flavors a lot here but we have to be mindful of who our customers are too and stay within their flavor profiles. A lot of our customers are parents with children four to 12 years old, and children enjoy flavors that tend to be a bit more basic like chocolate, vanilla and mint chip. However, we do plan on testing flavors like nutmeg and coconut that are reminiscent of Caribbean culture.
What’s next for your icy treat empire?
First up, we’re launching strawberry very soon! Then we plan on expanding our product offering to vegan mixes, sugar free mixes, sorbet mixes and even keto mixes. We want customers of all walks of life regardless of preference or health concerns to be able to make our ice cream at home. We are also targeting restaurants and small ice cream shops to offer our mix as an alternative to traditional liquid non-shelf stable ice cream mixes that most shops use to date.