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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New Cashew Nut Ice Cream Has Surprising Origins

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 2:35 PM

click to enlarge Andrew (left) and Ari Cohen proudly tote their frozen treat for health nuts. - KATHALINA URIBE
  • Kathalina Uribe
  • Andrew (left) and Ari Cohen proudly tote their frozen treat for health nuts.

After being dubbed the “Videogate cop,” for the nearly a decade, Andrew Cohen has turned his attention toward a sweeter deal and is now one half of Mr. Dewie’s Frozen Desserts, making cashew milk ice cream in Oakland.

This alternative to ice cream is dairy, soy, gluten, and GMO-free. The concoction came about in 2010 when Cohen’s brother, Ari Cohen, was eating his cereal with a pecan and date milk combo due to gluten and lactose intolerances. Cohen tried the milk and instantly thought it’d make a great ice cream, he tells SF Weekly. Coincidentally, this was around the same time he resigned from the force after “fighting” Videogate for five years since 2005.

He says he realized that it wasn’t going to end his way. The scandal revolved around a series of videos Cohen produced that were meant to be kept as an inside joke within the department. The videos were said to have sexist, racist, and homophobic material, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

“I wasn’t going to get to tell my side of the story,” Cohen says.

Mr. Dewie’s started out as an almond milk ice cream company, using local grocer Premier Organics’ almond paste as the base. The duo is now in the process of phasing out the almond product for a smoother, more widely-received cashew-based frozen dessert.

Holding an incredibly high standard for their ingredients such as cashews, cashew milk, sugar cane juice, and others, Cohen says, “it has to be organic, has to be good-tasting, [and] has to be pure.” He adds that the company tries to source locally as often as possible and chooses to work with organic, GMO- and pesticide-free elements.

From such ingredients come flavors like caramel almond crunch, coffee, chocolate orange chip, and chocolate. He also tells us that the company plans on morphing its current almond ice cream flavors, — strawberry, salted pecan, and mint chip — into cashew ice cream. Two entirely new players, vanilla and coconut, should arrive to freezers by the end of the year, making a total of nine deliciously “guilt-free” desserts.

Cohen nearly swears by the product, but a serving of the chocolate orange chip can run you about 290 calories and 15 grams of fat. Not surprising though, as cashews on their own are also packed with calories and fat.

Of the four original cashew milk ice creams, our favorite was the coffee. While it may not taste like Blue Bottle, SightGlass, or even Peet’s, it’s reminiscent of the trustworthy cup of diner coffee that accompanies your pancakes. 

Cohen says that the chocolate orange chip, was actually inspired by a childhood favorite, Swensen’s Swiss orange chip. He asked Ari to create a similar taste and ended up with one that is “identical to that flavor,” Cohen says. Head over to Swensen’s on Hyde and compare the two for yourself.

The completely natural and healthy treat is not officially labeled as an ice cream due to the lack of dairy milk fat content, (treats must have at least 10 percent of the stuff in order to be crowned “ice cream”). With its eyebrow-raising carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, 4:1, and one and a half grams of cashews per serving, Mr. Dewie’s makes for a great athletic recovery food, or so local race organizers Brazen Racing has told Cohen. Upon hearing this, he and Ari set up shop at one of Brazen Racing’s races and handed scoops out to runners. According to Mr. Dewie’s website, consuming carbs and protein after a workout helps replenish the body of glycogen, a sugar that the body creates for energy.

Some people have gone as far as replacing their meals with pints of this stuff ... though the same could be said for a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

As far as sundaes or sandwiches go, Cohen said he paired a scoop of the chocolate with two chocolate chip cookies his daughter baked, posted a photo on Facebook and the crowd went… well, nuts, as the company's slogan promises.

He says he also adds three ounces of the caramel almond crunch, coffee, or chocolate to his weekly kale shakes.

Going for $7.69 per pint on average, Mr. Dewie’s can be found at any major independent food groceries from Seattle to San Diego, including Whole Foods, Andronico’s, Rainbow Grocery, and Bi-Rite Market.

click to enlarge Like a treasure chest for vegans and the lactose- and gluten-intolerant. - KATHALINA URIBE
  • Kathalina Uribe
  • Like a treasure chest for vegans and the lactose- and gluten-intolerant.

Since his cop days, Cohen hasn’t been in contact with his fellow officers and doesn’t know if anyone knows or has tasted Mr. Dewie’s.

“I’ve kept it under wraps, if you will, until now … I’ve reached out to Weekly,” he says.

Cohen is still making videos and music, now mostly for Mr. Dewie’s. Before “Videogate,” Cohen produced two music videos for the 49ers, one for Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 against the Cincinnati Bengals that made it to MTV. Cohen says that video making is a hobby of his and has evidently tried to connect it with his work.

Short, commercial-like videos can be found on Mr. Dewie’s YouTube channel. Cohen says that all videos were shot with iPhones or whatever’s on hand “because I get these crazy ideas and I just want to do them,” he says.

“I like to self-promote through these strange eyes of creativity,” Cohen says.

Honored and celebrated for his community outreach work, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown dubbed Oct. 14, 1998 “Officer Andrew Cohen Day.” Cohen says he doesn’t do as much community work now, but from time to time he’ll answer requests for anonymous lullabies for the children in the cancer wards in hospitals in S.F. and Oakland.

Mr. Dewie’s also isn’t Cohen’s first stint in the food industry. In his lifetime so far, he’s owned four grilled sausage restaurants and worked at East Bay chain, Top Dog, for a few years. Cohen says he’d “love to own another grilled sausage restaurant” someday.

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