Business

Blue Bunny's owner buys Halo Top

Le Mars company expects to finalize deal this month

The Spencer High School freshmen baseball and softball teams gather outside the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars in 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
The Spencer High School freshmen baseball and softball teams gather outside the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars in 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

LOS ANGELES — Two years after it became America’s best-selling grocery store pint, Halo Top ice cream brand is being sold to one of the nation’s biggest frozen treat companies, Wells Enterprises.

Wells Enterprises, based in Le Mars, Iowa, has signed a purchase agreement with Eden Creamery, the parent of the Los Angeles-based Halo Top brand.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Wells Enterprises said in a news release that the acquisition is expected to be finalized this month.

“Halo Top disrupted the ice cream category by providing a high-protein, low-sugar, low-calorie dessert that gave consumers a reason to purchase ice cream as a treat again,” said Mike Wells, chief executive of Wells Enterprises.

“Halo Top met a consumer need that no one else in the category was serving. We have the sales and marketing expertise, but more importantly the passion, to help grow this brand even further,” Wells said.

Halo Top CEO Justin Woolverton, who was working as a lawyer when he invented the light ice cream in his kitchen in 2011, said that other companies had been interested in the brand, but 106-year-old Wells “simply does things the right way — something that has been at the forefront for us when looking at potential acquirers.”

Wells was founded in 1913 by Fred H. Wells. The family-owned company has more than 4,000 employees and a notable stable of brands. They include Blue Bunny, Bomb Pop, Blue Ribbon Classics and Chilly Cow.

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The idea that led to Halo Top had the most modest of beginnings — in Woolverton’s apartment with a $20 ice cream maker as he sought to reduce his intake of refined sugar and carbohydrates.

Halo Top did not own its own factory and had to refine its recipe to avoid blowing up the production pipes in its contractor’s facility because the original formulation was too thick.

Halo Top’s offices were in a low-rent co-working space in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District.

Halo Top’s appeal is simple — a no-shame pint of low-sugar, high-protein ice cream with 240 to 360 calories for the entire carton. Vanilla, at the low end, compares with 1,000 calories for a Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s pint.

To stay ahead of the rapidly proliferating competition, the company has added retail shops as well as a non-dairy line and frozen pops.

Halo Top will be expanding outside of the United States and Canada under a new company that Doug Bouton, president and chief operating officer of Halo Top, plans to operate after the deal closes, Wells said.

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