FoMu ice cream lovers don’t miss dairy one bit at these popular Boston-area vegan ice cream stores.
For some, ice cream is a a summer-only treat. But for Bostonians in the know, lining up around the block at one of FoMu’s brick-and-mortar stores is a year-round ritual.
Co-owners Deena Jalal and her husband, Hin Tang, didn’t start FoMu because they are allergic or intolerant to dairy, like many of FoMu’s followers. Instead, Jalal, a Springfield native who once operated an Emack & Bolio’s franchise, says the brand’s origins lie in a simple curiosity the couple shared about the evolution of the ice cream industry, and how so many producers use less-than-ideal ingredients in their batches. That curiosity gradually evolved into a desire to make a better, healthier ice cream product that would still satisfy a real sweet tooth. By substituting coconut milk for regular dairy, they found that their products were sweet, creamy, and floral––and used healthy fats in a way that regular ice creams did not.
“We’re making everything from scratch here,” Jalal says, “so when we have a pumpkin flavor, we’re not putting artificial pumpkin flavoring in—we’re using actual roasted pumpkins.” Likewise, seasonal flavors such as lemon meringue pie and customer-favorite blueberry shortbread are all creamy, natural versions of the real deal, rather than laboratory-devised substitutes.
Jalal’s interest in running a company that is all natural extends to other parts of the business. The paint in FoMu’s bakeries is non-toxic, the cash registers are paper-free, and the pints and baked goods (like their signature birthday cakes) are packaged with sustainable, eco-friendly materials. “Sustainability is really a key mantra of mine, and we’ve always been cognizant of our footprint on the earth as a small business,” Jalal says. “We really try to take those extra steps.”
Community is also integral to FoMu, and Jalal loves opening pop-up stores in new neighborhoods to connect with customers who might not have easy access to one of the cafes in the city. She also hints that new brick and mortar stores may be in the future. The team also is working with distributors to bring FoMu to the rest of the country. In the meantime, Bostonians can enjoy these treats in four different cafes, scattered across the city from Allston to Newbury Street. New Englanders outside Boston, meanwhile, can find FoMu pints at Whole Foods across the region, as well as a handful of speciality food stores.
Despite the anticipated growth into more states, Jalay says it’s unlikely that FoMu will ever become a brand only found in the freezer aisle. “One of my favorite things to do is to serve customers in our stores,” she says. “The brick and mortar cafes help people to see what we stand for.”