A la mode was supposed to be just a mom and pop ice cream parlor that husband and wife duo Marc and Sandy Roth created on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
“My background is in restaurants and my wife’s background is in the kid’s clothing industry,” said Marc. “There was a store that was empty across the street for more than five years from where we lived so I sold all the restaurants, I started having kids and my wife wanted to open up an ice cream shop, so we decided to open it up.”
Besides its unique start, a la mode ice cream is also unique in the fact that it is nut-, egg- and sesame-free—something that people who suffer from those types of allergies can appreciate.
“My wife Sandy was the one who was adamant in making sure that it was available to everybody with it being nut-free, egg-free and sesame-free, so I have to give all the credit to my wife and partner who decided that she wanted to open that up.”
Interestingly enough, all it took was one photo that made a la mode go from just a small ice cream shop in Manhattan to going national.
“At the time that we opened, we did not intend to open a la mode as the only one,” said Marc. “It just turned out that once we opened, a month afterwards, a father with a child with a nut allergy took a picture of our sign and it went viral.”
A la mode offers standard flavors such as vanilla and chocolate as well as other hand-packed flavors with cute names like Pink Sprinkle (pink vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles), Partly Cloudy (cotton candy ice cream with marshmallows), Wired (coffee ice cream with chocolate chips), Speed Bump (chocolate ice cream with marshmallows and white and dark chocolate chips) and Cooks (vanilla fudge ice cream with vanilla and chocolate chips). For schools and other institution customers, the company also offers soft serve in vanilla and chocolate as well as a variety of fruit bars.
“We are in Madison Square Garden [currently] and this year we’re going into the Minnesota Vikings [stadium],” said Marc. “So we partnered up with them and the San Diego Chargers and a few others, but I can’t mention those yet because we’re still in talks.”
With nut and other food allergies becoming an increasing concern, a la mode is made in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Bronx where there is absolutely no chance of a la mode’s products being compromised with any nut dust or trace amounts of eggs or sesame seeds.
“The fact that we’re the only manufacturing facility in the country that’s nut-free, egg-free and sesame-free [is unique],” said Marc. “We do dairy-free as well, so it’s safe. It’s the only safe product. That’s what differentiates us and makes us unique from other brands. We’re also super premium ice cream. So we are 60 percent low fat. That doesn’t make us unique, but the fact that we are able to have a super-premium ice cream that is safe without comprising flavor and taste, that helps us get to where we are now.”
A la mode to date has done little advertising with much of the company’s success coming from word-of-mouth within the allergy community. The company’s product line includes USDA “Smart Snacks” and in New York City is the only ice cream product allowed by the NYC school system that can be brought into the schools by students.
A la mode ice cream is currently in retail stores, schools, camps, corporations, bakeries, scoop shops as well as through e-commerce. The ice cream is being rolled out in stores on Long Island, including North Shore Farms, North Shore Market, North Shore Marketplace, Natural Foods in Garden City, Uncle Giuseppe’s, Wild by Nature and with others to soon follow.
To learn more about a la mode ice cream, visit www.alamodeshoppe.com.