A decade ago, celebrities sported milk moustaches from billboards in Times Square to school cafeterias, practically touting the consumer with the question “got milk?” The question today, however, is “what doesn’t?” As milk alternatives flooded the market, their frozen counterparts closely followed. The products’ reduced carbon footprint and health benefits are as appealing to the palate as the inventive flavors that brands like Sweetpea, SorBabes, O’MY, Revolution, and NadaMoo churn out. From Austin to Richmond, we caught up with these Southern frozen treat purveyors to get the scoop on the new wave of dairy-free and vegan ice cream shaping the Southern freezer.
SorBabes | Sarasota, Florida
Although sorbet does not typically have dairy in it, co-founders Nicole Cardone and Deborah Gorman made it their mission to refine the dessert to be creamier, eliminating the normal gritty profile that it can have. It started with Cardone making sorbet for herself in college to avoid the poor ingredients and grainy texture that came from store-bought versions. She partnered with pastry chef Gorman to nail down the recipe, and the duo started serving their product at a farmers’ market in 2012 before it became available in supermarkets. Their single-serve pops now come in five different flavors and their vegan and gluten-free properties ensure guilt-free enjoyment.
Ice cream played a bigger role in founder Jared Olkin’s life than most. His grandfather would eat three scoops every night and his mom had a scoop shop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he grew up. When he decided to go vegan, he had trouble finding a dairy-free ice cream that fit the bill for the confection he’d grown up with, so he set his sights on gelato and made his own. Ground cashews and coconut oil make up Revolution’s creamy base and ensure a difference that is equal parts indecipherable and delicious.
O’MY | Richmond
Entirely plant-based and dairy free, O’MY Gelato is made using coconut milk that infuses the blend with tropical undertones throughout, while allowing the main flavor to take over. Co-founders Allison Monette and Julie Bishop started with the idea to make the dessert more accessible to those with allergies and dairy intolerance. Since launching the product exclusively in Richmond, O’MY has popped up in more than 1,500 grocery stores across the country and expanded their line to include a collection of low-sugar options. Novelty flavors like Cake Walk and Coffee Break attract eyes, while vanilla and chocolate root the brand in the classics.
A pint of NadaMoo starts with organic coconut and pure agave syrup before being blended with toppings for some one-of-a-kind flavors. Masterpiece flavor profiles like peach cobbler, maple pecan, and caramel cold brew & cookies are sure to resonate with every Southern sweet tooth. Like others in the dairy-free ice cream business, the NadaMoo team’s leading product was born in a home kitchen to soothe a dietary restriction-induced craving in 2004. A year later, the founder, Amy Ramm, launched the first four flavors becoming the first company to use coconut milk in an ice cream.
SweetPea | Virginia Beach, Virginia
The launch of SweetPea came in February 2021, when one family in the ice cream shop business wanted a product for their relatives and customers with dairy intolerance. They found their answer in a chickpea blend that delivers half the calories and fat of a regular pint of ice cream while maintaining a rich consistency. Packed with protein, SweetPea comes in nine flavors ranging from Peanut Butter Bomb to 3 Parts Chocolate to Must Do Cold Brew.