Black Business

This Black-Owned Ice Cream Brand Was Founded More Than 100 Years Ago

Jolyn Robichaux

Baldwin Richardson Foods with a storied history that dates back to its inception in 1921 as Baldwin Ice Cream in Chicago, has evolved into a titan within the food industry, largely thanks to the visionary leadership of Jolyn Robichaux. The company’s journey from a popular local ice cream producer to one of the most prominent African-American-owned food companies in the US is a testament to strategic expansion and leadership acumen.

Jolyn Robichaux, stepping into the leadership role in 1992, was pivotal in steering Baldwin Ice Cream Company into new territories, marking a new chapter in its rich history. Her foresight and strategic planning were crucial in 1997 when Baldwin expanded its horizons by acquiring Richardson Foods. This acquisition was not just an expansion but a transformation—birthing Baldwin Richardson Foods (BRF). Richardson Foods brought to the table well-known retail brands such as Nance’s Mustards & Condiments, Mrs. Richardson’s Toppings, and Richardson Root Beer, enriching BRF’s product lineup and market appeal.

Under Robichaux’s leadership, BRF underwent a significant transformation, evolving from a retail-focused entity to a comprehensive provider of retail and food service ingredients. This transition wasn’t just about changing the product lineup; it involved cultivating robust partnerships with major quick-service restaurants and casual dining chains, thus broadening BRF’s impact in the food industry.

The company, under her guidance, ceased operating stores and selling ice cream, pivoting towards specializing in the manufacturing of syrups, fillings, sauces, and toppings for desserts and other foods. This pivot was strategic, enabling BRF to meet the changing demands of the market and setting the stage for future expansions.

By 2001, Robichaux’s vision for growth led BRF into the industrial marketplace, supplying ingredients to food manufacturers and marking another significant milestone with the acquisition of The J.M. Smucker Company’s Industrial Products Division. This move not only expanded BRF’s operational footprint but also its capabilities and product offerings, cementing its status as a leader in the food industry.

Over the two decades following Robichaux’s leadership, Baldwin Richardson Foods has seen remarkable growth, continually enhancing its offerings and capabilities. The company’s success is largely attributed to its commitment to fostering enduring partnerships, innovating solutions, and anticipating industry trends.

Today, Baldwin Richardson Foods stands as a testament to Jolyn Robichaux’s enduring legacy, thriving as a distinguished black-owned food company known for its quality products and dedication to meeting diverse customer needs. With a foundation built on over a century of excellence, BRF is poised for continued innovation and success in the food industry.

Learn more about the brand via its official website at

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