We make people smile with really cool treats,” Ziegenfelder Co. Vice President Barry Allen emphasizes. The family owned company is prospering thanks to the vision of the CEO’s father, Charles Lando, who converted the company in 1985 from manufacturing ice cream and novelties to frozen water ice products.
Thanks to the company’s distinctive “Rainbow Array®” clear packaging, customers can see the Budget $aver twin pops wrapped in clear plastic wrap. The packaging captures consumers’ eyes, and the company’s flavorful formulations keep them coming back.
The distinctive Rainbow Array® clear packaging is protected by a trade dress which insures that consumers are able to associate the distinctive Rainbow Array® packaging with Ziegenfelder Co. products. “If it doesn’t look right, you’re not going to buy it,” Allen points out.
Ziegenfelder’s Budget $aver brand of frozen treats are distributed nationwide – to the warehouses supplying independent grocery stores, regional grocery chains, dollar stores and mass merchandise retailers. “We do produce some private label products, although it is a small percentage of our business,” Allen says. “Our assorted twin pops are the No. 1 water ice item in sales per point of distribution nationwide. What that means is at locations where Budget $aver twin pops are sold, they consistently outsell all other water ice items.
“We aren’t in every retailer in America, even though we ship nationwide, due to the cost of entry,” he says. “That can raise our cost on Budget $aver items getting to the shelf, which means you have to raise your retail price, which means the consumer has to pay more. We don’t believe in that.”
Despite this philosophy, the company’s products are gaining distribution. “Major retailers have many requests for our products,” Allen maintains.
“I Love Lucy”
All Ziegenfelder products are produced, distributed and sold frozen. None are sold unfrozen and put in the home freezer after purchase as some other products are.
The company produces millions of twin pops daily on production lines at its headquarters plant in Wheeling, W. Va., and in Chino, Calif. The Wheeling plant measures approximately 60,000 square feet; 45,000 square feet is a -15 F freezer. The Chino plant is approximately 10,000 square feet, Allen estimates.
Although the details of production are proprietary, Allen describes the broad outlines of the largely automated process as starting with vats of each pop flavor produced as a liquid. Each flavor is pumped into its own mold, which is placed in a brine solution that maintains a significant subzero temperature.
As the pops freeze in the molds, sticks are inserted. The pops are released after the molds pass through a defrost chamber. Once released, the pops are wrapped automatically in clear plastic and sent to packers and baggers, who arrange the pops in the company’s familiar Rainbow Array® order by hand.
“We’re not like a lot of companies where everything is automated,” Allen says. He compares the process to the famous chocolate manufacturing line from the vintage television show, “I Love Lucy.”
“Because of the nature of high-volume food manufacturing, our consistent focus on quality and excellence are critical in exceeding our consumers’ expectations,” Allen says. Besides the Rainbow Array® of six colors, Ziegenfelder also produces a variety of other configurations, including a red, white and berry blast pop.
Once customers buy Budget $aver for its value, what keeps them coming back is the flavor of the company’s secret blend. “It’s kind of like Kentucky Fried Chicken,” Allen teases. “Nobody really knows how they do it.
“When’s the last time you saw somebody eating a twin pop and not smiling?” he adds. “The bottom line is we want our customers to be happy with our products because what we have looks good, tastes good and doesn’t cost a lot.”