How To Start An Ice Cream Business In A Pandemic

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-I love so much, and being able to have my own company where I make is kind of like a childhood dream job you don’t even know can actually happen. Like when kids say that they want to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, that’s how it feels about being an company. ♪♪ I’m Sydney. I live in , California. I used to be a creative director at an ad agency.

I got laid off last October because of COVID, and now I’m an ice cream kingpin. Bad Walter’s is named after my dog, Walter. -Stay. -Think he’ll ever listen to you? -He used to.



-He’s a little tiny Chihuahua terrorist. It’s bootleg ice cream because I am currently making my ice cream out of my house. I wanted to make sure that people knew up front what they’re getting themselves into, that if they showed up at some place, they weren’t, like, confused. You can use a little more salt. Some of the most beloved Bad Walter’s flavors have been Slumber Party, which is a Ritz cracker ice cream with Reese’s Pieces, Nutter Butters, and a brownie fudge, Campfire, which is a burnt marshmallow ice cream with Rice Krispie crunchies and a chocolate whiskey swirl.



One of the new favorites is Backyard Lemon, which is a Labneh ice cream with Meyer lemon curd and biscoff cookie crunch. A few weeks ago, we did Thicc Mint ice cream, which is a cold-brew coffee with Girl Scout cookie Thin Mints and a really thick chocolate fudge swirl. My ice cream texture is really creamy and decadent without being overly sweet.


It’s got body to it and it’s got a little bit of a bite, but it will melt in your mouth. I will never make an ice cream that you can buy in a store.

This is how I make my custard base. Step one is a giant bucket of sugar. Next thing I do is I add guar gum. Guar gum is a all-natural gum that helps improve the texture of the ice cream. So you have to mix it into the sugar first.

A little bit of corn syrup for texture as well. And it might look like I’m adding in a lot, but I am making a lot of ice cream right now.


I use pasteurized eggs, egg yolks specifically. Even though the milk is pasteurized and the eggs are pasteurized, you still want to pasteurized them again. So I put the heat on like a medium.

Got this lovely thermometer. You have to bring this up to 170 degrees. Now we just stir and try not to scramble the custard. Yeah, pull up a chair. The thing will go off when it’s all done.

Until then, undivided attention. It takes so long to get it up to heat. I’m originally from New York. My parents are in advertising. And I always wanted to follow in their footsteps, even though they told me not to.

I’ve done every type of ad you can think of — commercials, 30-second, 60-second, 15-second, 6-second, radio podcasts. What else? I did it.

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As a creative, I would put all of my time and emotional energy into writing a script, art directing something, selling it through to a client, revising, revising, revising, revising, finally getting to shoot, editing for another month. And then finally you put it on the television and everybody fast-forwards.

It’s terrible. There’s so much I love about advertising, but at the end of the day, people hate what you do. Before I got laid off, I already felt like I was at a crossroads.


I think it was exacerbated by COVID and just trying to think like, is this what’s making me happy? Right now, I am at the grocery store.

I’m just looking for inspiration, things that I might want to include in the ice cream and figure out different flavor profiles. I want to try some, like, strawberry lime ginger. So maybe I don’t have to do fresh ginger, but maybe ginger ale would be really cool. And the other aisle I’ll look at is the ice cream aisle. See what everybody else is up to.

I can’t do things that nobody’s ever had before if I’m choosing things that are readily available. I do a different flavor every week.


I really enjoy doing themed flavors. It is Passover this week. So this week is called Elijah’s Munchies.

It is a sweet cream ice cream with matzo crack and macaroons, which are two traditional Passover foods, Passover desserts, really. And a berry wine jam swirl. Last night, I made matzo crack. It is a layer of matzo, a layer of toffee, and a layer of chocolate on top of that. This is macaroon cookies.

They’re shredded coconut, vanilla, egg whites, sugar, of course. I like ice cream that has a lot of stuff in it. I like the variety. I love when you find a really big chunk of something in your ice cream and it feels like you’re getting, like, a special reward. This is my husband, Brett.

-Hi. -He is my CFO/dishwasher.


-Slash, you know, I have another job as well. -Yes. He also works.

One of the things that was really important to me was to make lactose-free ice cream. It takes 24 hours for the lactase enzyme to get to 95%, 98% efficacy of breaking down the lactose. So I just put in Sharpie whenever I de-lactose something. Just give it a good shake. I have a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome where my collagen is produced faultily.

I won’t nap, but I will lie down on this couch a lot. Or, like, with my head between my legs. Collagen makes up 70% of your cells. It’s kind of like a rubber band. It’s why people want it in their face to reduce wrinkles.

But it’s everywhere. My collagen is more like chewed gum where it stretches and can’t contract, so causes systemic issues throughout my entire body, including in my stomach. I have something called gastroparesis, which literally means paralysis of the stomach, so it can’t always digest food. I’m often put on what’s called a low-FODMAP diet. I can’t tell you what a FODMAP is.

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I just know I’m supposed to eat less of them. And one of the things that is on that low-FODMAP diet is lactose. So I started making ice cream when I went on a low-FODMAP diet and couldn’t imagine staying on it without having ice cream. I would have rather been sick. So I bought an ice cream maker.

I made maybe one or two pints of ice cream, promptly broke the machine, returned it, and never looked back. And then fast-forward to COVID hitting. And I knew I needed any hobby and I thought “This is the time to bring back ice cream.” So I bought an ice cream maker, and maybe two months later, I had a friend who was supposed to get married. And they came over here for their wedding day with one of our other friends.

It was the first time we had seen anybody in months.


I made an ice cream cake and everybody was like, “Why aren’t you selling this? You should just make ice cream.” And I was like, “Oh. I didn’t even think that could be a thing.

” And two weeks later, I started Bad Walter’s. Today is Saturday, and I am currently prepping to get everything ready for when all my customers come to my front door and pick up their ice cream. We have a few pints left to fill for today, and so I’m just going to do a few pint scoops. I always like to do a big smear of the jam right on the inside of the container. You eat with your eyes first.

So I want to make sure every pint is beautiful. The first week, I started an Instagram. I put it on Instagram. I had one or two friends post it on their Instagrams and maybe sold four pints. I announced a flavor on Monday.

I said, “I will leave it open until Wednesday at midnight.” I got four pints sold. I was like, “Yes, that is three more people than I expected.” I expected one friend to buy a pint.


I had those sales for Wednesday.

I started making my ice cream Thursday. I had people picking up on Sunday. And I did again the next week. And the next week, I sold seven pints. I was like, “Oh, it’s going up.

” Seven pints. And two of those people I had never even met. From there, it really just started to take off. It still feels like I’m a mad scientist in a kitchen with all these weird ingredients I’m concocting together.


So I also put a little bit of jam on the top again.

There’s jam swirled throughout this whole thing, but it’s just so exciting to open up a pint of ice cream with that big dollop of color. Star of the show. -Making a big cameo, Walter? -Usually the doorbell rings, Walter will go berserk, and then I say, “That’s Bad Walter.” -Hi.

-I’m looking for Bad Walter’s? -You are at Bad Walter’s. -[ Speaks indistinctly ] -Oh, hi. Three, four. I keep the freezer at negative-20, and since the freezer’s so cold, these pints are impossible to carry for long times.

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Hi. -Hi. I’m here for pickup. -Hi. -Hey.

How’s it going? -Hi. How you doing? -Hi. Good, how are you?

-Your hair looks great. -Thank you. -See you soon. -Bye. -I’m so proud of you.

-Thank you. Bye. Like that. I think because we’re in quarantine, doing the customer-facing part has been so wonderful because it is the only human contact I have in a week.


I’m very soon getting into a kitchen.

Making it out of my house was a means to an end, but I’m very excited to be slightly less bootleg. If and when I grow, I still want to hang on to this underground vibe that I’ve created. I’m all-in on ice cream now. A year ago, if you told me that I would have left advertising, have gone into any sort of a food business, I don’t even think I would have thought you were crazy. I just, like, wouldn’t even comprehend what you were saying.

Do you need a bag? -No, I’m good. -Okay. -Thank you so much. -Enjoy.

-Thanks. Have a good one. -I really like being my own boss. I like being able to work when I am inspired to.


I like being able to not work when I’m feeling sick.

I like not having to answer to anybody. Nobody shares ads to make them feel better. -I come because my wife says to come here. That this is the only ice cream that we’ll eat in our family. -It just feels like a lot of unique flavors.

Things that I wouldn’t have thought would go together. -I come every week, actually. -Having people tell me about how much joy they had in their week from my ice cream feels like I’m a contributing member of society and that I’m doing more good than harm. -I love your ice cream, and I have a friend who can’t eat lactose, so I just texted her and took one to her. They’re all great, so thank you so much.

-Thank you. I had a customer tell me last week that she loved the ice cream, but she had a friend who was having a really terrible week and she couldn’t get a pint and she shared the pint with her and that it just made everything better.


And that was super moving to me. Ice cream makes everybody happy. The only sad people you see eating ice cream are people who are going through a breakup.

And even then, they’re eating ice cream because it makes them happier. You can’t be sad while eating ice cream. ♪♪ Low-calorie ice cream. It’s like having sex with your pants on. Nothing will be as good as the real thing.

I’m all-in. I want the most decadent ice cream. If I’m going to eat ice cream, I’m going to eat ice cream. -Low-calorie ice cream. It’s like having sex with your pants on.

Nothing will be as good as the real thing. I’m all-in. I want the most decadent ice cream. If I’m going to eat ice cream, I’m going to ice cream..

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