Blog: No Barbie Doll Is She

Burt Ross

Ann Ryan, a 20-year resident of Malibu, comes from good stock. She has the inventive gene in her DNA — it’s as simple as that. Her father, Jack Ryan, designed the original Barbie doll and Ann has already exceeded that accomplishment by creating 30 different flavors of Beachy Cream ice cream and ice cream sandwiches. Between you and me, I’ll take the ice cream over the dolls any time — not even close!

You might think that with Barbie dolls funding her affluent youth, Ann might have been raised with limited expectations … but au contraire. Both her parents taught her she could do anything she put her mind to, and she has set her sights on making Beachy Cream a national ice cream brand.  Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs: watch out!

Ann started the company in her own Malibu kitchen just five years ago and her ice cream can now be bought in PC Greens, The Godmother’s, Vintage Grocers, the gift shop on the Malibu Pier and Malibu Seafood, where, according to Ann, it is their first and only dessert.

And that’s just in Malibu. Her products also sell in many Gelson’s and Whole Foods supermarkets. But to get the full ambience of her brand, you must visit her store on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, where Ann has put her UCLA theater training to full use, to say nothing of her Barbie Doll pedigree. Attractive pin-up girls dressed from the bygone days serve ice cream with flavors containing surfer jargon, such as “Key Lime Cowabunga.” (By the way, surfers stole the term “Cowabunga” from the “Howdy Doody Show,” and dude, there is nothing cool or awesome about that.)

Ann was first smitten with the ice cream bug when at the age of five when she went to a Wil Wright’s old-fashioned ice cream parlor in West L.A. She fondly recalls eating “nesselrode bula,” with candied fruit and rum. This preoccupation with ice cream was reinforced when she worked during summer when she was 16 years old in a Howard Johnson’s in Chatham, Cape Cod, Mass. There was something special about scooping all those 28 flavors for which HoJo’s was renowned.

Ann has already passed on her love of ice cream to her daughter, Beth Levine Stockwell, Malibu High School graduate class of 2001, and to her son, Eric, class of 2010. Beth helps in personnel and sales, and Eric works part time in marketing.

What impresses me about Ann is how she has managed to look attractive, despite eating ice cream all the time, even if it is only to taste the various flavors for quality control. I can say unequivocally that were I in her business, I would be a blimp and would have to sit in a wheelbarrow and be pushed around just to get anywhere. 

Now I know that Beachy Cream is made from nothing but natural  ingredients — whatever that means — but I can tell you when you eat this ice cream, you can actually feel those arteries clogging. We’re not talking spinach here. Ann says you have to eat in moderation, but when I bite into some of her ice cream, moderation is the furthest thing from my mind.