By Chris Faulkner
Jared Johnson’s roots are in Hawaii. His grandmother’s maiden name is Ahpuck, and she lived in Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island.
“Ohana” means “family,” and family traditions are strong in the 50th state. When Jared and Maggie Johnson’s daughter, Ony, expressed an interest in business, the family used that as motivation to start Ohana Ice, a shaved ice truck that launched on May 1.
“I’ve been looking into shaved ice for a few years,” said Jared. “We’ve thrown that around to bring something over here to Iowa. Shaved Ice seemed fun for us and fun for the kids,” Jared said of Ony, 12, Keoni, 5, and Kian, 1.
Jared said Ony has been active in the community already as a past Little Miss Iowa and she’s the Little Miss Burlington and Little Miss Des Moines County. And she’s already shown a strong interest in business and finance.
“I want Ony to learn about business and about money and the value of money,” Jared said.
Jared said that their product is not to be confused with sno-cones.
“It’s not chopped or broken up,” he said. “It’s finely shaved ice.”
“We have Maui Wowi,” Jared said, “and Hawaiian Punch. My favorite one is A Little Loco.” To keep the Hawaiian heritage, the Johnsons use Hawaiian flavors like pineapple and coconut.
For the more adventurous, the Spicy Pickle is a combination of dill pickle and firehouse cinnamon meant to mimic the flavor of a sweet and spicy pickle. Their signature recipes combine two, three, or even flour flavors at a time.
They can also add a “snow cap,” which is flavored, condensed milk poured over the top. This addition creates a softer ice experience, making the ice more like ice cream. Candy toppings like Nerds, gummy worms, and Sour Patch Kids are also on hand.
“There’s also a Sour Spray,” he said. “It’s really, really sour for kids.”
Besides Thursdays at the Jefferson Street Farmers Market, Ohana Ice can be found Fridays at Heartland Harley Davidson on Roosevelt Ave.
“On weekends, we pretty much keep it open for events and venues,” Johnson said, such as the recent National Night Out and the upcoming Touch a Truck put on by the Rotary on Aug. 26 at Westland Mall’s parking lot.
“We’re big into family, and we’re big into traditions and carrying on the family heritage,” he said.
The family emphasis can be seen in the company logo, which features the faces of their three children on cartoon bodies. For the heritage emphasis: “We’ve done events where we’ve given out leis to the kids. We also play Hawaiian music throughout the trailer,” Jared said.
Besides the shaved ice business, Jared and Maggie keep busy with their day jobs. Jared is the general manager at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Maggie is a business analyst at Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center.
“We came up with this opportunity for our kids to have,” Jared said. “From the kids’ point of view, it’s a lot of fun. They love to see their faces out in the community. The community has been very responsive to us opening a business. It’s brought a lot of joy to our family. We’ve got a passion for it. We put a lot of love into it. It’s pretty much who we are.”
When winter comes, Johnson said Ohana Ice will shut down, but they might try to expand their menu to coffee items more suitable for the cold-weather months.
For more information on Ohana Ice, look them up on Facebook as Ohana Ice - IA. They may also be reached at 319-631-9989 or email@example.com.