our noona story

Noona means “big sister” in Korean. Noona’s began when our founder, Hannah Bae, had a craving for Black Sesame ice cream (a classic and beloved Asian ice cream flavor) and couldn’t find a pint of Black Sesame ice cream at any nearby store. She eventually went to the nearest Asian-American supermarket and found one that lacked real whole foods in its ingredient list. Without a pint in her hand, she went home and decided to make her own version of Black Sesame ice cream using local milk and organic sesame seeds.

As a self-taught baker and cook, Bae became focused on perfecting her ice cream recipes and creating her own flavors. With the comfort and joy she felt when making ice cream, she shared every scoop with friends, neighbors and family. One flavor that Bae developed before starting Noona’s was her Toasted Rice ice cream. Noona’s began through a demand for this unique flavor and Bae’s desire to let her entrepreneurial spirit thrive and make a positive impact.

“It’s a flavor that sticks with people. I created the Toasted Rice flavor when I was feeling the most alone I’ve felt in a long time. I wanted to make a flavor that reminded me of my family and what they would love and bring a smile to their faces. When I shared that flavor with family and friends, it really hit home. It’s probably why the flavor is so comforting to so many people. Food is emotional, and food made with thought has the power to bring people together.”

In 2015, Bae bought a bigger ice cream machine and moved production to Hot Bread Kitchen, a food incubator supporting minority women in Harlem, NY. There, she began to develop more flavors for Noona’s and officially launched the company on National Ice Cream Day in July 2016.

After winning best flavor for Noona’s Toasted Rice ice cream at multiple ice cream contests held in NYC, Bae found opportunities with local specialty food stores and restaurants. With a collection of Asian-inspired flavors that you can’t find elsewhere (think Turmeric Honeycomb and dairy-free options), Noona’s is growing steadily and sustainably. With your support in Noona’s, we have moved production to a licensed local dairy facility and you can now get pints of Noona’s throughout the Northeast region and beyond. Pints are also shipped nationwide.

As a company born from a need for diverse representation, Bae hopes that her unique approach to culinary combinations resonates with others and inspires them to bring their dreams to fruition.

Learn more about Bae’s inspiration and get her Toasted Rice ice cream recipe @Food52.