After approximately a dozen test runs, the Welsh Farms board was ready to bid a fond farewell to David Mintz and Tofutti, but Mintz begged for one final chance to perfect his product. While the Welsh Farms board were ready to turn down Mintz’s request, Welsh Farms president Earle Holsapple outvoted them and agreed to give Tofutti one last try.
“It must have been maybe 3:30 or 4 a.m. when we gave it our last shot,” remembered Mintz. “There we are, saying Tehillim, and the needle goes into the red zone. The machine is vibrating. The building is vibrating, until finally the needle moves back into the safe area. We stopped saying Tehillim and the needle went straight back into the red zone. It was like kriyas Yam Suf, when the Tofutti finally came out. We had tears in our eyes.”
In its infancy, Mintz marketed Tofutti to health food stores, but as word of the frozen non-dairy delicacy spread, orders began pouring in and by 1983, Mintz took the company public. The company has continued to skyrocket.
“At one point I went back to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to thank him for his guidance and encouragement,” said Mintz. “The Rebbe said to me ‘Don’t thank me, we are partners.’ The Rebbe’s secretary told me that in all his years, he never heard the Rebbe say those words to anyone before. Somehow word of what the Rebbe had said got around and suddenly there were so many buy orders on the stock exchange for Tofutti that the SEC halted trading on the stock for half an hour and called us to find out what had happened to generate so many buy orders.”
Not content to rest on his laurels, Mintz continued to experiment and today Tofutti pints are available in Vanilla, Chocolate Supreme, Wildberry Supreme, Vanilla Almond Bark, Vanilla Fudge, Chocolate Cookie Crunch and Better Pecan. Tofutti Cuties, snack size ice cream sandwiches, are produced in an assortment of flavors including Vanilla, Cookies ‘N Cream, Totally Vanilla, Strawberry Wave, Chocolate Wave, Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate Chip, Coffee Break, Wild Berry, Blueberry Wave and Key Lime. Mintz’s trademark sense of humor is evident in the names of all of his products: Marry Me Dessert Bars contain vanilla Tofutti dipped in a chocolate coating, Yours Truly are chocolate and cookie covered Tofutti filled ice cream cones and Mint by Mintz Pops features mint tofutti dipped in chocolate, among others. Mintz was honored last month by Prepared Foods Magazine, a leading trade publication, with the Excellence in Innovation Award for Tofutti’s new and improved Hooray Bar, a vanilla tofutti bar covered in a chocolate and brown rice crunch coating, completely sweetened with stevia, an all natural, zero calorie sweetener.
“I did something that Coke and Pepsi haven’t done,” declared Mintz with pride. “They are still trying to figure out how to work stevia into their products.”
While Mintz, who has no formal science background, contemplated studying food science at one point in his life, he was advised by the Lubavitcher Rebbe not to do so.
“The Rebbe told me that studying will limit me, will give me borders, saying ‘you go where no one else goes,'” explained Mintz. “But I really haven’t done anything special. I am only the messenger. It is only with G-d’s help that I have been successful.”
Tofutti brands incorporates numerous other products in its growing non-dairy empire, much to the delight of the millions of lactose intolerant people worldwide as well as kosher consumers who are continually on the prowl for non-dairy alternatives in order to expand their culinary horizons. Tofutti Brand’s Better Than Cream Cheese comes in five different flavors and soy-cheese slices are available in both Mozzarella and Cheddar, making kosher cheeseburgers a very real possibility. Sour Supreme, a sour cream alternative, is available in three different varieties, including Guacamole, and one of the latest products to roll off the Tofutti production line is Better than Ricotta, a ricotta alternative that was many years in the making.
With a ricotta product under his belt, Mintz confesses to getting recipes from his Italian neighbors and using them to expand the horizons of kosher cooking.