Nothing brings us back to our childhood summer days of brain freezes and blue tongues quite like a Mr. Freeze Jumbo freezie.
Kisko Freezies, a company owned and operated by the Josephs family, has been supplying Canadian children and adults with these thirst quenching treats for four decades.
The company is now celebrating their 40 year milestone by building a school in Jamaica — where Kisko first began.
“A key part of our DNA is giving back,” Mark Josephs, the president of Kisko, told CBC Toronto.
“We don’t look and say, ‘Wow, I want to make a million dollars so I can go and buy this and whatever material possession it is,’ but I think we truly look at our business and say, ‘We want to be profitable so that we can enhance the lives of our staff as well as enhancing the lives of other people,'” he said.
Kisko Freezies has been making the popular frozen pops in the GTA since 1977, when founders Leslie and Glenore Josephs moved the business from Kingston, Jamaica to Canada.
The family-owned company saw its fair share of bumps in the icy road keeping up with bigger and more established businesses.
Glenore Josephs said the family needed to be all hands on deck and willing to work long, hard hours.
“Many times we’d go to work Friday morning and we’d leave Saturday afternoon … because we had to produce a load because we got an order and so, everybody worked on the line; the boys too, all of us,” she said.
Now, those boys help run the business, making it a complete family affair.
“We all worked there,” said Mark Josephs.
“I would’ve been 14-years-old. My other brother’s a little younger. Cousins that worked there had uncles and other family friends. So I’m thinking we probably had at one point, we were probably around 10 people. If you look at us now, we’re 92 full-time and we hire about 100 seasonal staff,” he said.
The company is seeing some great success, partnering with big retailers like Canadian Tire and Walmart in Canada and the U.S.
Maybe it’s due to the nostalgia behind jumbo freezies. For Mark Josephs, the delight of the product is in the memories it brings back.
“I think sometimes when you’re in it, you forget how much fun the product is and the memories for the teenagers, adults, as they go back to their childhood days,” he said.
“It may have started simply with riding their bikes to the convenience stores, buying one or two of the giant freezies and then going off and knocking them off somewhere.”
On top of the feel-good nature of giant freezies, the company has made a conscious decision to give back to the community.
Every year, Kisko gives a portion of their profits to different charities locally and outside of Canada.
Leslie Josephs, the co-founder and head of the Josephs’ household, placed great importance on giving back.
He died 10 years ago but his legacy has motivated the family to go back to Jamaica and help in any way they can.
“There are no social services there. There’s no food bank and the people are poor. It’s a third-world country. And so I always say, when we are blessed, we’re commissioned to bless others,” said Glenore Josephs.
The family has already built two schools in the island nation and plan to build a third this coming August.