Willie Wonka had nothing on Dale and Jen Hoy, gold miners turned local jam makers; in 1988, they moved their family from Whitehorse to Okanagan Falls and expanded their part-time jam-making venture to a full-time business. Two years later, their golden ticket materialized into a business that made more than jam; they opened a business dedicated to make people smile.
In the spring of 1990, The Hoy’s opened Tickleberry’s – at the present location – on Highway 97 just outside Okanagan Falls. 27 years later, their daughter, Kelsey & son Aaron who grew up in the home and business, has taken over.
“It has grown immensely since my parents first started out. I’m now in my 8th season and I absolutely love it,” she says in sugary prose. “I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. We have the best customers, many of whom have been coming here since my parents first opened; and let’s face it, we eat sweet treats all day – what could be better than that?!”
The customers who frequent Tickleberry’s do so for many reasons. Some come to peruse the gift shop; others do so because it’s a family tradition. Some went to school with the Hoy kids and now want to induct their children; others pride themselves on supporting local. But all do so regularly and because Tickleberry’s has the best selection of sweets in the land.
“Literally every single day someone stops me to talk about their connection to Tickleberry’s. Whenever my dad is here, he loves to catch up too, and is always around to help out,” says Kelsey and while she speaks, I drift away to a land of handmade waffle cones and chocolate rivers made for dipping.
But she isn’t the only one who thinks more clearly after a mouthful of sugar. It’s mandatory for all Tickleberry’s staff to not only love sugar, they must also love having fun at work. “I’ll be honest, I’m more creative after a couple scoops of ice cream,” she laughs.
Tickleberry’s serves on average 3,000 cones per day; no surprise considering they have over 75 flavours including their own, which is also made in-house, a craft they learned at Penn State University. “One of the best things about ice cream is that is a tasty time machine. Ice cream can take a person back to a place or age. Everyone has a favourite flavour from traditional Maple Walnut to Bubble Gum, Mint Chocolate Chip or Sea Salt Caramel.”
Some of their own flavours include Lime in the Coconut, Whiskey Caramel Crunch and Unicorn Fart, which looks as fun as it sounds and tastes even better. And, all of their inclusions such as brownies, banana bread and their cookies are made right in the kitchen at Tickleberry’s.
“If there’s one thing my parent’s taught me, it’s to never pass up dessert.” A life lesson many of us could learn from. With sugar in her veins and sweetness in the way she approaches life, one cannot help but smile.
Tickleberry’s is everything you’ve extracted from childhood and everything you never want to forget. They even have a canine cone for dogs. To draw out your inner child, treat someone you love or go back to a place that felt as they it were rolled in chocolate, dipped in sprinkles and topped with a smile, stop by Tickleberry’s today.