When “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was released in 2015, an avalanche of corresponding licensed foods hit market shelves. The only thing that branded products like Stormtrooper Campbell’s soup, Han Solo Pop-Tarts and R2-D2 Coffee Mate creamer had in common was their outrageous commercialism. On the other end of spectrum were the high quality Star Wars-branded ice creams from Brooklyn-based Ample Hills Creamery, created from scratch specifically to honor the film. The two flavors—The Light Side and The Dark Side—quickly sold out of its 40,000 pints.
To promote Star Wars: The Last Jedi, opening on December 15th, the Force is once again with Ample Hills. This year, they’ve created three flavors to tell the story: The First Order (salted dark chocolate with chocolate chunks), The Resistance (brown sugar vanilla bean ice cream, and chunks of red velvet cake, butter cake, toffee pieces, and mini-marshmallows), and The Force (sweet cream ice cream with swirls of chocolate fudge, plus white and dark chocolate Valrhona pearls).
Starting Monday, 40 Whole Foods locations in the Northeast, the FreshDirect website, Ample Hills Creamery locations in New York and New Jersey, as well as amplehills.com, will offer the ice cream.
The unlikely alliance of a small Brooklyn ice cream maker with the mega Star Wars franchise came about because Brian Smith, CEO of Ample Hills, had the good fortune to once upon a time sell a few pints to Bob Iger, the CEO of Walt Disney Co. The two hit it off, and Iger offered his business mentorship. That has taken Ample Hills from a Star Wars licensing deal to a shop in Walt Disney World and a new factory in Brooklyn, capable of producing a million gallons of ice cream annually. Iger has zero money invested.
“I envisioned being able to help him in a Disney way and [investment] would have deprived him of that relationship,” Iger told Bloomberg.
Though December isn’t prime ice cream weather, those pints and corresponding merchandise are key to Disney’s bottom line. As movie ticket sales tank, it’s the licensed product sales attached to a film that deliver huge results. In 2015, analysts reported that Star Wars merchandise generated $3 billion in sales. (And that’s peanuts compared to the bigger licensing picture. When Disney agreed to buy…