Jerk Ice Cream: Jamaican businessman pushes island flavours in FloridaFriday, October 22, 2021
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Arguably the most versatile Jamaican culinary product on the market, jerk has become synonymous with chicken and pork. It has other popular spinoffs including vegan and ice cream.
On Sunday, jerk items of all kinds will be on display at Florida Jerk Festival Orlando. One of the booths there will be Mister Flavors Tropical Desserts, a new company operated by Jamaican Paul Johnson.
The Trelawny-born businessman is introducing his Paul Flavors brand to the Jamaican community. One of those flavours is jerk for which he claims to be the originator.
“I personally invented the world-famous jerk ice cream in 1989 and it took me 20 years to temper the spices to give the product a new kick. In 2005, the jerk ice cream was introduced to the Jamaican Jerk Festival at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida where it was a big hit as it maintained the longest lines at the festival,” he told OBSERVER ONLINE.
Johnson is known as Mr Flavors in South Florida's entertainment community. He earned that nickname after opening Tropical Flavors Ice Cream there in 1987. The retail store serviced a growing Jamaican community with popular island flavours such as grapenut, rum and raisin and stout (his creation is known as Stout Jim).
In addition to jerk, those are some of the available tastes from Mister Flavors Tropical Desserts which he hopes to sell through Jamaican and West Indian stores.
Johnson credits his hands-on approach to ice cream production to his grandmother whose homespun technique he learned in Trelawny.
“I use to watch my grandmother making ice cream and my payment for helping her spin the buckle and adding the coarse salt was to get the metal spindle when she was finished making a batch of ice cream, and it was there that I became interested and I started to understand the basics of making ice cream,” he recalled.
After a decade-long break, Johnson is back in the dessert business. He is also involved in show promotion, staging the annual Where It's At event.
The Florida Jerk Festival Orlando is the brainchild of Jamaican Damian Tater, who also promotes the July 4 Florida Jerk Festival in Palm Beach.
On Sunday, Third World, Cham and Trinidadian soca singer Nadia Batson will perform at the event.