Ice Cream Day with Geraldo’s

President Ronald Reagan announced a national holiday to celebrate ice cream back in 1984. His intention was to promote the economic well-being of the US Dairy Industry and he called on everyone to pay tribute to ice cream with “appropriate ceremonies and activities”. To this day, National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in July, not only in the USA but also here in the UK. Needing no excuse, we raised a Geraldo’s ice cream cone to celebrate!

Me and Sweet Caroline

Ice cream has certainly changed since 1984 with a rise of artisan producers and a growing range of amazing and unusual flavours. Our own brand of Geraldo’s ice cream has been produced by Toni and Sweet Caroline for 11 years in the smallest production unit in Scotland (at the back of the shop). Named after Toni’s late father, Geraldo’s has won numerous awards for creative flavour combinations including gluten free options. Have a look at Toni’s account of ‘The Story of Geraldo’s ice cream’ for the inside scoop on how it all started.

Having worked with Italian MasterChef Antonio Losita last month, Toni has developed some fantastic new flavours, including Lemon Sorbet, Pear Cheesecake and Raffaello. Sweet Caroline, at 71 years, still makes most of the ice cream on-site. After 11 years of making Geraldo’s ice cream, the busiest day ever was in June this year when Caroline made 180 litres of ice cream by hand from 10am until 11:30pm.  At the end of that night, she was captured on camera dancing in the shop to Michael Jackson’s, ‘Don’t Blame it on the Sunshine’. Proof, if any was needed, that happiness is ice cream.

Happy Ice Cream DAY!

 

 

Did you know?

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After last week’s blog about the start of the ice cream season and Geraldo’s 10th birthday I was sitting in my office this morning wondering what to write about next.  So I’ve decided to introduce a weekly (this may be wishful thinking on my part) blog called:

Did you know?

Haven’t a clue what its going to be about but I’m sure if I book myself in for a day spa at Cameron House this week the inspiration will come to me. (Now that’s definitely wishful thinking!)

Here goes for this week’s instalment…

Did you know that Monday is our usual day for stripping down our Mr Whippy ice cream machine?  The whole process takes about an hour or so, all the parts are sterilised and lubricated then the machine is filled again with fresh ice cream; Geraldo’s ice cream, of course, and we’re the only shop in Largs who puts fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine.  Did you know it’s Gluten Free? And did you know we now have Gluten Free cones to serve it in?  Please tell your coeliac friends all about it and they’ll be your BFF!

 

Monday is also a day for stock orders and Bon Bons is usually first on my list.  Did you know we stock over 100 different flavours of traditional hand packed sweets from Bon Bons? They also supply us with their melt in the mouth fudge, giant chocolate slabs, gourmet mallows and gorgeous gift bags filled with retro sweets, cinder toffee and flying saucers.

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After a busy weekend with lots of visitors to Largs, did you know that the days following a busy period is when most small business owners like me start preparing for the next one?  After all the stock orders for the week ahead are done, there’s admin, banking, accounting, payroll, staff rotas, forward planning, website updates, marketing…..the list is long but if the business is going to be ready for the next instalment of good weather and lots of visitors, we have to be organised and prepared for it.

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Despite all of this, did you know Monday is my favourite day of the week?  I like it even more if I’ve had a busy weekend.  It’s a real shame for those of you who don’t enjoy, sorry LOVE, what you do, dread Monday mornings and the idea of going back to work.  For someone like me who, 15 years ago didn’t like the idea of starting a business in Largs one little bit, did you know I absolutely love it here.

Have a great week everyone and keep your fingers crossed for me that I manage that well-deserved spa day.  I’ll let you know next week!

Toni x

The 2014 International Flying Dutchman World Championships are coming to Largs…

20140710-095829-35909775.jpg It’s bright and breezy out on the Firth of Clyde and Largs is sailing into the weekend with perfect conditions for hosting this world class event at Largs Yacht Haven organised by the SSI and Largs Sailing Club. Competitiors have arrived for the event with registration and the opening ceremony taking place this weekend. The fun starts on Monday, 14th when the first two races start and will continue right through to Saturday, 19th of July with the prize giving and closing ceremony. The sight of these spectacular 20-foot racing boats is one not to be missed so get yourself to Largs this week and don’t miss out. fd Worlds Meanwhile, at Sugar & Spice, we’ve developed a new flavour of Geraldo’s Ice Cream to welcome the competitors to the town centre. It’s our traditional Classic Vanilla recipe rippled with red and blue raspberry sauce and a sprinkling of blue sherbet pips and called, you guessed it: “The Flying Dutchman!” We’re flying the flag for Great Britain and hope that our British competitors enjoy some fantastic racing. 20140711-143334-52414467.jpg Incidentally, I just found out the Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that’s doomed to sail the oceans forever. Let’s just hope that all who sail in the event make it safely back to shore to enjoy the closing party celebrations.

Talking of celebrations, if you’re a whisky or whisky liqueur fan, Old Pulteney are one of the event sponsors. We’re offering 10% discount off Old Pulteney Stroma Liqueur during the Flying Dutchman event.

Have fun!

Toni

The story of Geraldo’s ice cream…

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My Dad, Gerald Dawson, aka Geraldo!

I guess most girls think of their Dad as handsome but I remember this picture in particular because I took it. He had a great sense of style, a fabulous smile and was always upbeat, outgoing and full of energy. That was before the recession of the 90’s kicked in and he lost everything, home included, after 35 years in business. My parents moved in with me and shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. That was the beginning of a long hard struggle against ill health and trying to make a start again in business. Dad was absolutely determined to keep going no matter what.

I took the opportunity to start up myself in Largs operating a seasonal ice cream outlet near the CalMac ferry terminal. With a great deal of family support, Mum and Dad moved to Largs and whilst I accompanied Dad to hospital for ongoing treatment, Mum assisted me in the business. Two summer seasons later another shop came on the market directly opposite me. Dad was obviously feeling better around then and encouraged me to “go for it!”  After successfully securing the lease on the property, Sugar & Spice started up in March 2000.  With little more than a few £100 in cash to get going, I fitted out the shop with very basic kitchen units, hand painted them in bright candy pink stripes and tried to get really creative filling such a large space with well-packaged confectionery and holiday rock.

My Mum had always been in the ice cream business and started up ‘Caroline’s Ices’ in Ayr back in the early 60’s and I knew from the family’s previous business interests that I had to sell ice cream to make the business work long term.  Largs has a strong history of Italian ice cream families and the Nardini name is known all over the world.  Equipment is hugely expensive and there was no way I could afford to buy.  What chance did I have with so much going against me?  I decided to contact several suppliers to see who could loan me a display cabinet and supply me with good quality ice cream.  The Orkney Creamery was a family business like ours and their wonderfully creamy ice cream was just what I wanted.  It was a small cabinet to begin with, 8 flavours I recall, and situated inside the shop.  Knowing that ice cream is an impulse buy, I knew the cabinet had to be within eyesight of passing customers if it was going to work so after the first season I submitted a planning application to open up one of my front windows so that the ice cream could be served directly onto the street.  What a difference that made!  Three years on and the Orkney Creamery could no longer keep up with demand and they told me at the end of that summer they could no longer supply me.  It was a real blow at the time but sometimes you don’t realise that a seemingly bad situation is really an opportunity in disguise.

Ice Cream queues

Dad was hugely supportive but his health took a turn for the worse.  Mum and I continued to look after him at home with nurses, doctors and round the clock medication all part of the daily routine for several months.  I always remember him saying “Take control and go for it kiddo!”  So I did!

Mum and I enrolled in training courses with Carpigiani’s Gelato University, travelled to Hereford to study courses in recipe formulation and research ice cream making equipment and, within 6 months during the quieter winter season, I remortgaged my home, borrowed every penny I could on credit cards and set up my own production unit at the back of my shop.  It also happens to be the smallest production unit in Scotland but you’d be amazed at what comes out of it.

Dad was terminally ill at that point but was constantly asking how it was all going.  I contacted one of the best graphic designers I know, Derek Goodchild at Ocean Agency, and asked him to create a logo for my new ice cream brand.

My Dad was a very good footballer and won 5 caps for the Scottish Showmen’s International Football League.  He was spotted by a talent scout who wanted to sign him to play professionally for Preston North End.  Faced with choosing between this fantastic  opportunity and his commitment to the family business at that time my Dad decided to give up any notion of a professional career in football.  He continued to play for the SSIFL and everyone who played with him and against him likened him to one of the world’s best Brazilian football players at that time, Geraldo Jose da Silva.  Everyone knew my Dad as Geraldo and so…

Geraldo’s Luxury Ice Cream was born!

My newly branded cabinet was installed in the Spring of 2005 along with branded tubs, napkins and wafers and another ice cream season was upon us.  On Father’s Day 2005, I nipped home to check on Dad and tell him we’d just had a power cut and all my ice cream was melting in the middle of a busy, hot and sunny, Sunday afternoon.  Mum was in the shop giving it away. Why waste good ice cream and what a great marketing opportunity that turned out to be.  He settled back down, smiled and passed away later that night.

There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of him and the inspiration that he was to me and every day the sun’s shining brightly in Largs there’s nowhere I would rather be than scooping and serving my award-winning ice cream to the visitors and hearing them say Geraldo’s is the best ice cream in Largs.

Incidentally, my Mum affectionately called my Dad Gerry Berry.  That’s now my signature flavour – Classic Vanilla rippled with Amarena Cherries soaked in Kirsch and Balsamic Vinegar.  Dad would’ve loved it!!

Gerald Dawson
1937 – 2005