We found Ian Carandang recently on Facebook, and fell in love with his advertising campaign for a new brand of luxury ice creams called Chubby Bar. We asked him to tell us about his ice cream business “Sebastian’s Ice Cream” based in the Philippines, and how he created the bear themed ice creams.
It all started 15 years ago as a hobby, and I wanted to make my own Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (because it wasn’t available locally back then). I had a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream recipe book & an old-school ice cream churn you filled with ice and rock salt, and the first flavor I ever made was Chunky Monkey. We opened our first shop in 2007, and today we currently have three branches in Metro Manila. Back then the situation of ice cream was low-end local ice cream with high overrun (air content) on one end of the spectrum and really expensive imported Haagen Dazs on the other end, with nothing in the middle. We were the first artisanal ice cream brand to do a mid-level price point and local, small-batch unique flavors. Today Ben & Jerry’s and other imported brands are easily available at grocery freezers and we have several local artisan ice cream purveyors making everything from gelato to liquid nitrogen ice cream, but we were the first ones to do it.
ICE CREAM & SORBETS – We started out making American-style flavors that weren’t available here, like Butter Pecan and Cookie Dough (which are still some of our most popular flavors), I have branched out since then. I took the techniques I picked up along the way and doubled back to our local flavors and produce.
I’ve made Kakanin (meaning “made from rice”) Ice Creams using our local glutinous rice inspired by our Filipino sweets like Sapin-Sapin (a multicolored rice cake topped with coconut caramel). I also make sorbets using our local fruits like Mangoes, Calamansi and Guyabano. One of our trademark flavors is Mangga’t Suman, a combination of sticky rice coconut ice cream swirled with fresh Mango Sorbet.
I’ve also veered into edgier, more experimental flavors. One of our signature flavors is Once In A Blue Moon, a Danish Blue Cheese Ice Cream that is topped with walnuts and Honey. Another is Champorado & Dilis, Based on a classic Filipino delicacy of the same name where Chocolate Sticky rice Ice Cream is topped with crispy dried fish (it’s a Filipino thing; salty and sweet with just a hint of fishiness on top to make it interesting). Our most challenging flavor would have to be the Green Mango Sorbet topped with Bagoong, a funky, salty fermented shrimp paste. These probably all sound very scary to you, but trust me, for a Filipino, these are all classic flavor pairings.
I’ve expanded beyond Ice Cream since then and worked with coming up with Ice Cream novelties: Chilly Burgers – our Ice Cream cookie sandwiches. Our headliner is the Cookie Dough Duo; which is Cookie dough ice cream sandwiched between cookie dough cookies (freshly baked chocolate chip cookies topped with chunks of cookie dough and then frozen)
Dive Bars – our take on the classic ice cream bar on a stick, which I dip in coatings of Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Nutella, and Cookie Butter and roll in various toppings and garnishes.
Fruitsicles – Our take on paletas, made with real fruit. Our version has 30 layers, each layer being a different flavor. There are no shortcuts to making these as we freeze it one layer at a time, so it takes 3 days to make a full batch of Fruitsicles.
For every International Pride Month in June, I wanted to express my support for the LGBT cause (something that sadly very few companies do here, because the Philippines is still a deeply Catholic conservative country) I wanted to make something that you could carry around and proudly show your true colors, so I decided to make Pride Pops, Paletas with the colors of the Rainbow Pride and Bear Pride flags. The Fruity Rainbow pop is made with Strawberry, Orange, Mango, Green Apple, Blueberry, and Grape while the WOOF! pop is a milk paleta made with nutella, Peanut Butter, Caramel, Coffee, White Chocolate, Black Sesame and bittersweet chocolate. .
Our newest product, launched just this January is the Chubby Bar, an ice cream bar that takes its inspiration from the Twix candy bar. It has a crunchy cookie baked into the ice cream bar itself, then a layer of dessert sauce like caramel, peanut butter or fudge, a layer of ice cream, and the whole thing is dipped in a soft chocolate so that the cookie is the textural highlight
We did our first promotional campaign for this product and I decided to use Bears as the image models. So I gathered a bunch of my bear friends and we did a photoshoot with the only guide that they dress to embrace their size instead of trying to minimize it. Rather than skinny models you see all the time in these types of ads, I wanted to use people that looked like they actually liked to eat. I really wanted to embrace body positivity and have good vibes all-around. By all accounts it was a very successful campaign because we sold through our initial stock and everyone who saw the ads couldn’t help but smile.
I also made it a bit of a stealth Bear awareness ad by putting in little bear symbols everywhere, from the color scheme to the logo and the name itself (chubby bears for chubby bars). Nothing too overt for people who aren’t familiar, but for the people who would recognize it, it’s a nice little easter egg of representation. There is very little LGBT visibility in ads because it runs the risk of being taken down by religious conservative leaders. The most recent example of that was a year ago when a local clothing brand did a billboard featuring a gay couple and apparently they were told by the ad council that depicting them holding hands would not be allowed.
To think that kind of institutionalized homophobia still existed in 2016 really saddened me and I wanted to make my own statement on that with my own little online campaign where I didn’t have to answer to an ad council. It’s one of the things I’m really proud of, not just as an entrepreneur but as a human being and I look forward to doing more of it in the future.
For more information on these wonderful Ice Cream creations go to: