I had the pleasure of chatting with Anne Wikkerink, mother of four boys who are the heart and inspiration behind Screamin Brothers frozen treats in Lethbridge, Alberta. Anne was open and willing to talk about the challenges their family faced in adopting their two youngest sons from Haiti. She talked about the courage and generosity of her two eldest boys and how they garnered support from their community to help the best way they could. This was the beginning of the story that is Screamin Brothers frozen treats.
“It all started when we were ready to bring home our first little boy, Joseph, from Haiti. I was there with him just a few weeks before the earthquake. We arrived home safe and sound,” Anne said. “The paperwork for our second little boy David, wasn’t quite finished yet. Then the earthquake hit. We couldn’t bring him home. He stayed in the orphanage in Haiti amongst many other young children. It was incredibly difficult and especially hard on our eldest boys JR and Dawson, they were just 8 and 7 years old at the time.” JR, Anne told me is her oldest son, and is known to the family as a foodie, a talented cook, fearless in the kitchen and “he’s a bit of a health nut” Anne laughed; I could hear the warmth in her voice. It was JR that came up with the idea to sell frozen desserts at the community farmer’s market in Lethbridge, and to donate his earnings to the orphanage in Haiti where his new brother David was staying. “We thought it was a wonderful idea and supported our boys in pursuing it”, said Anne. Screamin Brother’s Frozen desserts are unique and unlike your average ice cream or frozen yogurt. JR created the recipes for his icy treats with his brother Dawson in mind. Dawson grew up with a severe allergy to dairy, eggs and wheat. It was important to JR that Dawson could enjoy the frozen desserts too. JR’s ingredient research led him to choose organic coconut milk as the base, honey from Southern Alberta to make the treats deliciously sweet, and a bounty of flavours to allow customers to pick their favourite. From mint chocolate, to key lime to traditional vanilla there is a flavour to satisfy everyone’s palette. “The idea took off more than we ever thought. We found out that not only was our boy’s passion to help the children in Haiti contagious, but there was clear desire for dairy free frozen desserts in the Lethbridge community. JR’s passion to create a sweet treat that Dawson could enjoy was also helping many others who suffered from common food allergies,” said Anne.
JR and the family were thrilled when his new little brother, David, was safely brought home to them in Lethbridge, and their frozen treat business continued to grow. A name was clearly needed for the delicious desserts and one came about in a natural playful way. The four brothers were chattering about names one day, and with four boys in the room the discussion escalated in volume leading one brother to shout at the others “stop screaming!!” and so it was… Screamin Brothers Frozen Treats was born. Fast forward to today and JR and Dawson are 15 and 14 years old. They are in school full-time, and dedicated to their studies; but on the weekends they are invested and excited to be working on their business. “JR loves people” says Anne. “He enjoys talking with customers and leading taste testing panels to develop new flavours and recipes. While Dawson feels at home when he’s crunching numbers, he works closely with our accountant to manage the businesses finances, and he’s also a social butterfly interacting with customers on Screamin Brothers facebook page and twitter feed.” Since it all started the Screamin Brothers expanded their reach to the Banff and Canmore farmers markets and by the end of their first year they started to explore selling to retailers. Today Screamin Brothers Frozen Treats are available from the West Coast of British Columbia to Canada’s East coast in Quebec. They have plans to continue to expand the business and sell to additional grocery chains across the country. Their dedication to producing allergen free treats is unfaltering; all of their frozen desserts are made in a dedicated allergen free facility in Lethbridge, Alberta. They continue to donate a portion of their earnings to organizations close to their hearts including Right to Play and the Special Olympics.
These delicious treats are definitely worth Screamin about! And the Dragon’s Den thought so too, the four brothers were spotlighted on the Dragons den in November 2014 and signed a deal with David Chilton, who is providing support as they continue to grow their business. Today, the company remains wholly owned by the Wikkerink family, and they have lots of exciting plans for the future. How exciting! Keep your eyes peeled for what the Screamin Brothers are up to next by visiting their website and connecting with them on social media.
- Screamin Brother`s Frozen desserts are made with organic coconut milk in a dedicated gluten free facility in Lethbridge, Alberta
- JR, Dawson, Joseph & David are the inspiration behind Screamin Brothers Frozen Treats. Their favourite flavours are Blackberry, Orange pineapple and key lime
- A Story in a name! Four Screaming Brothers trying to pick a company name provided the perfect choice.