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Scoops of happiness from lockdown loneliness

During the lockdowns last year, Gerald and Rhia Grana created their own line of artisanal ice cream, Magic Scoops, which can be availed by messaging them through their online accounts.

Dolly Dy-Zulueta

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Ice cream is a comfort food, often rooted in your childhood, that never fails to perk you up when you’re down and double the exhilaration when you’re happy.

“Ice cream is a type of food that embodies happiness. When you are mad, you eat ice cream. When you are sad, you eat ice cream. When you are happy, you eat ice cream,” says Gerald Grana, owner of Magic Scoops Ice Cream, an artisanal ice cream brand that is starting to catch attention, when asked why he decided to embark on an ice cream business. When he resigned from his job as marketing manager for a salad bar chain in December 2019, Gerald initially thought of putting up a small, home-based dim sum business. He and wife, Rhia Diomampo Grana, had after all finished a dim sum and siopao making course at Negoskwela, where they both also took up an ice cream making course while they were both still working for other companies. They took time to learn new skills whenever there were opportunities to do so, because at the back of their minds they wanted to have a business of their own someday.

So, when Gerald quit his job in December 2019, the two of them started brainstorming on business ideas. But then in March 2020, Covid-19 spread in the Philippines and the Luzon lockdowns happened. The lockdown caught them in two different places — Gerald was at home in Quezon City, and Rhia was in Cavite visiting her mom, a senior citizen who lived alone. The strict implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) kept them apart for months, specifically from March to October 2020, and it was difficult for Gerald because he was alone. He and Rhia stayed connected via video calls but it was really different to be spending his birthday on 13 August that year without his wife by his side.

Magic Scoops’ Brownie Almond Fudge ice cream. / Photographs by Dolly Dy-Zulueta for the Daily Tribune

Gerald realized that he had to re-purpose and re-channel the negativity he was experiencing around him and turn it into something positive and he had to at the same time start earning again. He initially considered creating his own dim sum line but ended up with a home-based ice cream making venture instead. He chose ice cream over dim sum precisely because it was a type of food that brought happiness to everyone who ate it. And so he made that final decision and started laying down the groundwork the day after he celebrated his birthday alone.

Gerald turned to the ice cream making course which he and Rhia took that last quarter of 2019 and let it guide him in creating his own premium ice cream brand — Magic Scoops. In formulating his ice cream base, he also took into consideration what he had learned while working with Dairy Queen in the past and studied new ice cream-making techniques on YouTube, and watched ice cream documentaries of Dryers, Baskin-Robbins, Haagen-Dazs and Nestlé. He invested on an ice cream machine, a mixer, a chest freezer, ice cream bowls and all the ingredients that he needed — liters of milk, sugar, cream, eggs and various toppings — and worked from his home kitchen. After churning out initial batches of Magic Scoops ice cream, he treated co-homeowners in the subdivision where he and Rhia resided to free ice cream to get feedback on his product — and he got the feedback he needed, good and bad, to refine his ice cream formulations.

Magic Scoops ice cream is perfect for summer.

When his product was ready, Gerald attended to the paper work needed to run a business. He looked online for pint container suppliers and bought his initial 300 pints with lids, worked on a logo and label for his ice cream brand, had stickers printed and dressed up his pints for business. Pints, yes, pints. Magic Scoops ice cream comes only in pints. Nothing bigger.

“It’s because I want people to have enough of my ice cream to enjoy but not have too much of it to store in the freezer. It might take a while for them to eat it again, and by that time the ice cream might be of lesser quality and already icy. My idea is to have people eat the ice cream and consume it as a pint, maybe finish everything or share with family and friends. If they want more, they can always order again,” explains Gerald.

Gerald and Rhia Grana churning out small batches of premium ice cream. / Photographs courtesy of Gerald Grana

Now, Magic Scoops’ Premium flavors, priced at P350 per pint, are Banana Pudding, Brownie Almond Fudge, Cherry Maguire, Madagascar Vanilla, Malagos Choco Pie, Malted Milk Balls, Mango Graham, Salted Caramel, Mango Banana Sunrise and Dolce de Leche. All-time Favorites, which sell for P250 per pint, include Coffee Brew, Cookies and Cream, Chocolate, Rocky Road and Triple Dutch. Gerald continues to develop new ones and makes sure he has new flavors to offer every six months.

Getting the necessary boost in sales from his Quezon City neighborhood and from his Couples for Christ North B4 community, Magic Scoops is now available through calls and messaging via Viber messenger 63919-5068592, mobile phone number 0928-3009038, Facebook and Instagram (@magicscoopsicecream) and email [email protected] The brand also just recently got on board Foodpanda and will be available via the foodpanda app very soon.

“Seven months in, and things are looking up,” says Gerald.

Mango Banana Sunrise.

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