Since ice cream is for fun, the founder of an ice cream company is likely to be passionate about the brand. Three Twins Ice Cream founder Neal Gottlieb fulfills that entrepreneurial profile with bravura. Dressed in bright green trousers and matching bow tie bearing the company logo, Gottlieb personally greeted folks in front of his newly-renovated San Francisco shop at 254 Fillmore Street in the neighborhood called Lower Haight. He also served ice cream scoops, just as he did in 2005 as the first and only employee of the company. I asked about what makes this ice cream different.
Catch a hit flavor
A more perfect sunny March day could not be whipped up by any ice cream impresario for sampling a free scoop of organic or (certifiably yummy) vegan ice cream with fair trade ingredients. Moms with strollers, members of the community, the media and a mayor’s office rep compared notes regarding the virtues of organic flavors such as Land of Milk and Honey versus Sergio Romo’s Mexican Chocolate. The tongue-in-cheek branding (“It Only Tastes Illegal”) behind Mexican Chocolate harks back to the 2012 San Francisco Giants’ winning pitcher’s shout out to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the MLB.
Leave out the garbage
Indeed, authenticity and integrity runs through the brand featuring flavors with a twist. As Gottlieb describes it, “We leave out the garbage. We feature the purest of ingredients, no stabilizers, in classic flavors and in our own one-of-a-kind flavors with personality.” He explains that the whole point of his concept was to introduce great ice cream that is organic, too. “You don’t have to give up anything to get delicious ice cream,” he explains. From a factory in historic Petaluma, Sonoma County, premium local ingredients are sourced to make the all-important base from scratch. Since the freezing process is continuous, rather than batch, the amount of air is carefully controlled to create “smoother, creamier and denser texture.” About 16,000 pints of Three Twins leave Northern California daily bound for bodegas, cafes, restaurants, independent retailers’ freezers, at The Fresh Market and Whole Foods stores coast-to-coast.
Naming is in the blood
Newly returned from a Peace Corps stint in Morocco, Gottlieb was registered for entrepreneurial business classes while sharing a San Francisco Bay Area apartment with his twin brother and his brother’s fiancée. Hence the Three Twins name was born and the retail side of the business kicked off from a small space in San Rafael, Marin County. Dogged determination was required through the first year, but the timeline ultimately reflects the sense behind the vision. Gottlieb’s sense of fun shines through, too. Gay Pride Day features such flavors as Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, Two Tops Don’t Make a Bottom, Harvey Milk and Cookies, Rock Hudson Road, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. There are more flavors in production, but don’t ask Gottlieb to name his favorite. I can only tell you that it might be Lemon Cookie, the company’s most popular flavor.