Robb and Sarah Zimmerman were dedicated vegetarians since they were in high school — then they took the next step and became vegans.
When it came time for their son Henry’s third birthday in June 2014, he wanted a superhero party. They decided to make his favorite ice cream, Superman, with its flashy red, yellow, and blue colors.
Little did they know that the birthday treat would lead to a career for the dedicated dad. “Henry likes to take some of the credit,” Robb jokes.
Robb, an engineer by trade, quit his day job not long after and established The Ice Cream Plant, offering more than 40 flavors. They’re all vegan as the word “plant” suggests. The company is headquartered at Shed 5 in Detroit’s Eastern Market, but soon will move into its own space.
It is definitely not a hobby for the Zimmerman family, which also includes 4-year-old Anna.
Sarah, a physician’s assistant, kept her job but spends free time working with the Ice Cream Plant staff, Deanna Bedoun, Joi Olden, and John Cates (none of whom are vegan, interestingly).
Through hours of research, Robb came up with not only the Superman recipe, but developed his own for such favorites as Darkest Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon, Volcano Salt Vanilla, and Maple Bourbon — pretty much the most popular of all. (Author’s note: I’m not a vegan, but I tasted four flavors of the ice cream and liked each one a lot.)
The product avoids the iciness that sometimes goes along with ice cream that doesn’t include milk or cream by substituting coconut milk. But not just any coconut milk. “We use only organic coconut milk from Thailand, and not just because it is vegan,” Robb says. “We are also allergy aware.”
You won’t find nuts in any of the products, for instance, and they are gluten-free, as well.
The Ice Cream Plant’s products have gained a foothold in the metro area. They are available in restaurants and markets including Om Café, Chive Kitchen, Mad Hatter Bistro, Holiday Market, Western Market, and Plum Market, among others.
Visit icecreamplant.com for more information.