There is no monkey business for 23-year-old Brooke Hammer. She’s the founder of Peterborough startup Chimp Treats, which makes frozen fruit products.
“Our first product was Nice Cream — banana nice cream — and since then we have added two new flavours, mango-banana and strawberry-banana,” Hammer said. “And what’s special about nice cream is worldwide it’s the only frozen desert that’s made entirely from fruit so it’s just bananas, mango, strawberries with nothing else added.”
Nice Cream is currently sold coast-to-coast at retailers such as Whole Foods, Healthy Planet and Metro, and it will now be sold at various Loblaws across the province.
“We have officially rolled out our first wave of Loblaw stores, they have all shipped now, so across Ontario we’re in select Loblaw stores and we’re hoping to keep growing, adding in more waves of locations until we are in all of the Loblaw stores,” said Hammer.
Hammer came up with the idea of Nice Cream in 2016 when she noticed people were making frozen fruit treats at home and sharing their personal recipes online.
“I was really shocked that you couldn’t buy it anywhere for one, and I thought that if people could just buy it when they’re doing their groceries, you know its so healthy and so good they would love it,” said Hammer.
She ended up pitching her idea at a Peterborough pitch competition and then it was a case of trial-and-error to create the product with the right amount of ice chips and air.
The product was originally manufactured in Colborne, Ont. with 1,000 units produced a day. But with demand growing, Chimp Treats transitioned to a manufacturer in St.Thomas, Ont., where they can create 20,000 units a day.
“I do all of the marketing, so that ranges from doing our sampling events to doing our social and planning all of our photo shoots,” said Jillian Dunn, marketing manager.
Hammer hopes to hire two more employees in the coming months. Her goal is to also employ more people who identify as persons with disabilities because she knows the challenges that come with finding work — Her older brother has Down Syndrome.
“My brother is thousands of kilometers away but if he were here he would love working here, would show up and be excited, so we actually partnered with the community living here in Peterborough and hired a few individuals who identified as persons with disabilities,” said Hammer.