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Delaware ice cream entrepreneur on 'Shark Tank'

Shannon McNaught * Delaware
shannon.marvel@doverpost.com
Dover Post
Dover Post

When The Frozen Farmer’s Katey Evans needed a large amount of money to grow her business, she took her innovative ice creams to ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

The episode will air Friday, March 27, at 8 p.m.

“People have been telling us to try out for ‘Shark Tank’ ever since we opened our doors,” Evans said. “It’s a unique concept using misfit and ugly fruit, and it’s more about the food movement than just making ice cream.”

The 32-year-old Evans is the wife of Kevin Evans, of Evans Farms in Bridgeville. Everything from watermelon to corn is grown on the farm, plus large-scale greens. The farm’s fresh market crop sales have grown significantly over the last decade.

Grocery stores have very high cosmetic standards for produce.

“It has to be a certain size and shape. It has to look a certain way. The more grocery customers we acquired, the more we found that we were having perfectly good food go to waste,” Evans said.

The Evans were throwing away undersized cantaloupes and misshapen strawberries that were perfectly edible.

“We came up the idea of making our imperfect fruit into sorbet. And that’s how the concept of The Frozen Farmer was created,” Evans said.

Her mother, Jo Ellen Algier of Greenwood, had been making her own ice cream for years. It was a hit at family gatherings. In February 2015, the two of them went to ice cream school.

They spent three days at Ice Cream University in West Orange, New Jersey, learning the science of making ice cream.

“We learned there were so many traditional flavors of ice cream that we could use fruit in as well,” Evans said.

The business plan was to make and sell ice cream out of a food truck. The mother and daughter team quickly realized making ice cream in a truck, without plumbing, electricity and space, was impossible. They needed a commercial kitchen.

“When we got back from ice cream school we were kind of starting from scratch. We had to find a commercial kitchen quick because prime ice cream season was coming fast,” Evans said.

They found one at Heritage Shores and cut the ribbon at the business in June 2015. The food truck arrived in July. They spent the season saving money to build a commercial creamery on the farm.

Things started moving quickly. They started building the farm creamery in early 2016 and moved in that summer. By then, Giant Foods was carrying The Frozen Farmer ice cream in eleven stores. By the end of the year it was 15 stores, and the number kept going up. Giant wanted to carry the product in 150 stores.

“Last year, we were entering a really critical stage for our business. We really needed to grow and to get to that next stage it was going to take a lot of money,” she said. “So we said, ‘Well, what the heck, let’s give it a shot.’”

Evans, along with 600 other entrepreneurs, attended a “Shark Tank” casting call in New York City in May 2019. The casting team liked her pitch, and in September, she went to California to film.

“I can’t say anything about how it went,” she said. “However, it was an incredible opportunity either way just to be selected.”

Whether or not the Shark Tank investors went for The Frozen Farmer, Evans apparently got the money she needed one way or another. Her ice cream is on Giant Food shelves nationwide, and in numerous Redner’s Markets, ShopRites, Exxon Mobil convenience stores and restaurants. The Frozen Farmer will soon start online distribution.

“Our overall goal at the end of the day is to grow our business in any way we can,” Evans said. “Throughout this process, I’ve learned that chasing every dream can be worth it sometimes.”