Made In Chicago: Frönen

Steve Miller
October 28, 2019 - 6:00 am

Jessica Gartenstein, CEO of the frozen dessert company Frönen. (WBBM Newsradio)


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Two students at the University of Chicago, both majoring in public policy, liked to eat ice cream while studying.

And so, Jessica Gartenstein and her business partner, Erik Nadeau, started making their own.

The 24-year-old Gartenstein has celiac disease, and she wanted something that she could eat that didn't have a lot of gums and stabilizers and stuff.

"Erik and I turned our dorm essentially into an ice cream facility,” she recalled.

They kept it simple.

"It was really strange, walking around with crates of bananas and fruit. People thought I was a little strange."

They entered a competition at the business school and won. It was the turning point, and a non-dairy frozen dessert was born. They called it Frönen.

"It's the German word for indulge. Actually, when we were in school we called it 'Bee-nana' because we used honey and banana. And we quickly learned if we ever wanted to launch a product in a different category or without bananas in them, that would probably not be the best name."

Gartenstein, the CEO of the effort, says Frönen is in 250 stores, including Mariano's and Whole Foods.

She has a very personal interest in her product.

"I stand there in the aisle for like 20 minutes at a time and I kind of watch people shopping, and I'm like, 'What did they just pick up now?' I wonder why and how does it look on the shelf. It's a whole process."