by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – Paul Johnson learned to make ice cream the old fashioned way in rural Jamaica, with a wise head as his teacher.
Those lessons served him well, as he became a forerunner of Jamaican ice cream in South Florida. He boasts that he is the creator of a popular flavor.
“As the mad scientist I personally invented the world-famous Jerk Ice Cream in 1989. It took me 20 years to temper the spices to give the product a new kick. As a result, in 2005 the jerk ice cream was introduced to the Jamaican Jerk Festival at Markham Park,” he said.
Ice Cream Flavors
Known as Mr. Flavors, Johnson officially returns to the ice cream business on October 24 at the Florida Jerk Festival Orlando. He introduces the Paul Flavors line which is marketed by his company, Mr Flavors Tropical Desserts.
The landmark Jerk Ice Cream is one of the flavors on Johnson’s ‘menu’. Along with other Jamaican favorites such as Grapenut, Rum and Raisin and Stout Jim.
Johnson is from Trelawny parish in western Jamaica. That’s where, at age 15, he got his first taste of ice cream production from his grandmother.
“I use to watch my grandmother making ice cream and my payment for helping her spin the buckle and adding the coarse salt was to get the metal spindle when she was finished making a batch of ice cream,” he recalled. “It was there that I became interested and I started to understand the basics of making ice cream.”
He started his venture in South Florida in December, 1987 with Tropical Flavors Ice Cream, a retail store that manufactured and distributed his product throughout the West Indian community.
After a decade, Johnson retired from the dessert business and went into show promotion. In recent years, he has staged the annual Where It’s At reunion dance and a cruise to Cuba with the famed Merritone sound system from Jamaica.
Florida Jerk Festival Orlando
The eighth Florida Jerk Festival Orlando takes place at Lake Lorna Doone Park, 1519 W. Church Street, 32805.
The popular Jerk foodie festival will feature live performances. Including popular international reggae artists Third World, dancehall artist Baby Cham, and soca artists Nadia Batson, and Pumpa. Plus, it will also bring great island vibes and tasty food options.
“We are excited to host more than 10,000 foodies at this year’s Orlando edition of the Florida Jerk Festival,” says CEO of the Florida Jerk Festival, Damian Tater. “For the first time in the past 2 years we are able to bring an authentic island experience to Central Florida. Even though we have popular Caribbean artists that will be bringing good music and vibes to the masses, we also have expanded the foodie angle of our event to include the popular Jerk Experience which will allows festival goers to immerse themselves in all things Jerk, our VIP Experience which includes a curated menu of unlimited drinks and food, and our Jerk Cook-Off Competition.”