With a background in construction, you would never guess how Rob fell in love with frozen yogurt. On a date with the love of his life, Jackie, he sampled the delicious, creamy frozen yogurt that you all know and love today, and thought to himself, “More people need to try this”.
One fateful day, newlywed Rob went to a food show with a promise to Jackie that “he wouldn’t buy anything”… A few hours and thousands of dollars later, Rob was the proud owner of everything he needed to start his own Frozen Yogurt Shop in beautiful Amherstburg.
But Rob still didn’t have a location, until…. Do you know that little window along to the side of the Downtown Expresso Cafe along Dalhousie? Well, that tiny little closet would later become the first Nuccelli’s location in the summer of 1987!
With barely any room to move and nothing more than a passion for frozen yogurt paired with 0 experience in the ice cream industry, he was determined to make his dream come true.
The first yogurt ever sold was a very watery, watermelon frozen yogurt. It was during his first sale that he quickly learned that fruit needed to be frozen for proper consistency. After mastering the art of making the perfect swirly yogurt, today, the best-selling flavour is strawberry followed by peanut butter Oreo!
Back in 1987, not many people knew exactly what "frozen yogurt" was. Behind the scenes, Jackie was busy making the yogurts (in the "closet"), and Rob was working the window explaining to everyone that "No, this isn't regular yogurt that we put in the freezer" and also, "No, this isn't a girly dessert." The '80s were weird (but not weirder than 2020), and it turns out that ice cream was a bit more of a "macho" treat at the time. Who knew?
But Rob never doubted that if they just tried it, they would love it. He sold each one with the promise that if you didn't like it, he would buy it for you!
Eventually, frozen yogurt got some street cred, and the community started to love this healthy treat.
Nuccelli's a few years later was approached by T2B to provide frozen yogurt to cancer patients. This frozen treat helps to lift the spirits of those going through treatment and the coolness helps them to feel a bit better. This is something that we continue to do today!
Three years into the business, Nuccelli's had its first wholesale order for a school! Shoutout to St. Theresa, the trendsetters, who ordered the first 1,000 yogurts for Mr. Dalimonte's grade 6 class! They used the yogurt in school as a math lesson in handling money and inventory. And that was the start of seeing yogurt in schools across Windsor-Essex!
Community Living later approached Rob about inclusive career opportunities with Nuccelli's. From that meeting, he welcomed a young man to the team to help put flavour stickers on cups for seven years!
Over the years, Nuccelli's has been an active member of the community supporting schools, charities, and kids' sports! It's really an honour to give back to the community that has supported us for so many years!
Our first newspaper ad hand-drawn
by Jackie Iannucci in 1987
We're really lucky to live in an area with so many festivals and community events! Even throughout the pandemic, we've been fortunate enough to have Open Streets hosted by our friends at Visit Amherstburg! And while the Nuccelli's van/ trailer is a staple at most outdoor events, it wasn't always that way….
Rob had never attended a community festival before starting Nuccelli's. With no idea of what exactly the booth was "supposed to look like," he used his construction background to build his first stand out of plywood and popped a roof on it. Thinking back, Rob's sure that many had a good laugh out of his makeshift booth! (It didn't look anything like the other ones). But you don't build something like that and then toss it away! Nope, you can find the original sign proudly displayed in the family's backyard!
Today, you can almost always find the Nuccelli's van or our yogurt and ice cream at events across Windsor-Essex. Whether it's meet the teacher night, community festivals, track and field days, employee appreciation events, we've probably helped you celebrate something!
The funniest part of our history happened in 1993! We've had a few locations in Amherstburg, some down Dalhousie and Richmond, one in the plaza of Capri Pizza, another in the parking lot of what is now No Frills. A kiosk in the Windsor Public Library and also Market Square in Windsor. Nuccelli's has had a few places to call home over the years!
Now, this story takes place when we had our kiosk in the No Frills parking lot. We are very fortunate to have only had one break-in, in more than 33 years. One night, a burglar attempted to steal the money from the Kiosk. Unfortunately for them, they went through all of the trouble of breaking in to find that we didn't leave any money in there overnight.
Well, they couldn't leave empty-handed. They didn't reach for a case of yogurt or take any of our equipment... So what did they take? They settled on a box of Oreos! The newspaper had a great time with the story, saying that the "Trail went cold at the missing case of Oreos".
Now, not to alarm anyone, but the "Oreo Bandit" (as the newspaper called him) is still at large!
All of this to say, we've had a lot of fun over the years, have welcomed many talented staff to the team, and saw the community come together repeatedly at local festivals and events. And of course, we've made so many friends along the way!
We look forward to continuing the story of Nuccelli's and being a place for families and communities to "come together" (while staying socially distant for now).