Factory Tours

Mamita’s Ices

Every time summer comes around and New York gets blisteringly hot, ices help with cooling us off — frozen sweet treats made with ice, sometimes cream, and fruit flavorings. But it’s impossible to talk about ices without talking about Queens’ very own, Mamita’s Ices. With 12 mouthwatering flavors, such as coconut, tamarind, mango, raspberry, lemon, guava, bizcocho, and batata cream, Mamita’s Ices is a summer staple. We spoke with Nicole and Karen, the founders’ daughters. The founders, consisting of four sisters named Grecia, Juana, Nieve, and Maria Morel, began producing their ices from their home kitchens. After realizing the potential of their product, they took to the streets of New York to introduce it to local mom-and-pop shops. The orders started pouring in, and the sisters decided to open a small bakery that would also serve as a production plant for their now-famous ices. Every family member pitched in, and eventually, they all quit their day jobs and committed to the family business. The family has faced challenges throughout the years, some being sourcing prime materials and dealing with seasonal ingredient availability.
Originally from San Jose de Las Matas in the Dominican Republic, the Morel family’s roots have always been in business. The family was involved in the trade of cassava, a root plant, and eventually, they traded the business in for better opportunities and started to produce ices with flavors inspired by the Dominican Republic. Karen recounts, “ When we started, our uncles played the salesmen and delivery personnel role. Initially, they faced difficulty selling the product because no one knew about it and refused to place it in their stores. However, after leaving samples and spreading the word, we started receiving orders and building our clientele.”
The Morel family really had everyone in the family at the assembly line. Nicole recounts, “We would do each icy one at a time…We still have the sealers we started with. I remember when we used to help our moms and grandma after school. We would seal each ice pop individually and then place a label on them by hand. However, my grandma never let us fill the tubes because we sometimes spilled the liquid. So, my cousins and I were mostly on labeling duty.”
The process for the ices requires sourcing raw materials from everywhere, including Thailand where they source their tamarind. The tamarind is then ground finely and sieved out for seeds and is then paired with water to make this classic Dominican flavor “The flavorings that contain the term ‘cream’ are made with milk.” like the batata cream which is a sweet potato flavored icy. Nicole is confident in their flavor pairings and says, “One of the things that makes our ices unique is our flavor panel combined with the consistency of our core ingredients. We never compromise the taste of our ices and have been working with the same vendors for the past 20 years to ensure that our products maintain their high quality and unique taste, Karen expresses her thoughts clearly, stating that they will not compromise on the taste and quality of their products.“ In the future, they hope to develop more flavors. They plan to stay in New York City as it has been a key factor in their ongoing success, but also because of what they’ve created through Mamita’s Ices: the flavors tap into nostalgia for people from all around the world, from India to Thailand to the Dominican Republic.