Nice Cream is a small ice cream company in Chicago that does something strange and daring in the modern food landscape: they make and sell ice cream using only ingredients with names that ordinary people can pronounce. Ingredients such as “cream,” “eggs,” and “pie.” The tiny company was a classic recession success story: a laid-off teacher experiments at home with her Cuisinart ice cream maker, and with hard work and creativity creates a delicious product that’s eventually sold at Whole Foods. But the state of Illinois doesn’t really see it that way, and Nice Cream will have to shut down or make drastic changes to its products and process in order to stay legal. They’re first, and other small-batch ice cream makers could be next.
The problem is that regulations are designed for industrial food production, not tiny companies making gourmet products. Illinois requires pasteurization and regular bacteria tests for perishable prepared food like ice cream, and the company rents kitchen space and doesn’t have the required pasteurization equipment. Acquiring that equipment would cost an estimated $40,000. There is a way around it: use pre-made ice cream mix and fruit syrups instead of the current pronounceable ingredients and fresh fruit. That’s not a product that fans are going to pay $8.99 a pint for.