From Italian ice to frozen custard, the Everetts family has been in the frozen dessert business for 25 years.
Business has always been booming at the local hot spot, which is managed by Al Everetts and his son, Troy. But it was Troy's interest in the cannabis business that sparked an idea to grow their reach.
“I was in the dispensary and I saw 20 grams of this, 20 grams of chocolate bars, and I was like, 'There's no frozen products,’" Troy Everetts says.
Troy saw products containing cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis derived from hemp plants. It's used to help treat anxiety, chronic pain and neurological disorders like epilepsy. As an oil from the cannabis plant, it usually only contains trace amounts of THC, but not nearly enough to get you high. So why not put CBD in their homemade Italian ice? Well, easier said than done. CBD oil isn't water soluble.
"It's really hard, because it likes to float to the top and so it's really hard to get it mixed through the ice," says Marissa Foersch with Primal, a smoke and vape shop in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
CBD connoisseurs say there has to be some sort of fat in the product for the CBD to hold onto.
"That's why a lot of people use coconut oil or ice cream and stuff like that," Al says.
When the Everetts family pitched the idea of using Italian ice, there was a bit of skepticism among cannabis companies.
"They were questioning us. They said, 'I don't think you're going to get the oil in the Italian ice in the water. You won't do it in a non-dairy product,’" Al recalls.
But Al was up for the challenge. He spent a month using his Italian ice expertise to find a solution.
The end product is 30 milligrams of CBD mixed into a cup of flavored ice. Flavors include lemon, cherry and mango. However, the process is under wraps.
Right now, the father and son duo are working to move into a bigger facility across town to help meet the demand for their Mt. Everetts Frozen Creations products.
"We had to expand from our little ice cream shop in the back to this, so it's amazing how we're growing," Al says.
Al says the extra fridge space will soon be necessary as they're starting to hear from people all over the country. CBD stores in South Carolina, Florida, New York and Alaska are already on the list. But until then, they're focused on supplying the northeast.
"We're excited about it," Al says. "The response has been unbelievable."
Their biggest fans are people who have relied on CBD for medical purposes. The Everetts' say that alone makes the hard work worth it.
"The other day there was an older man who said, 'I was in a lot of back pain' and he ate one, and he said his back wasn't hurting him anymore," Troy says. "And when we hear stuff like that, it's always awesome to hear that our product is helping someone."