Priding herself on using premium ingredients, Jill Kasle says people are drawn to Bombshell Treat Bar because of its high-quality products and unique flavors.
In fall of 2017, Jill Kasle’s husband, Matt, was diagnosed with cancer. Four months later, Jill was diagnosed with cancer as well. With two young kids just starting out in elementary school, the situation was extraordinarily challenging for the couple.
“We tried to keep things really positive and optimistic,” says Jill Kasle, who is the founder and owner of gourmet ice cream bar on wheels Bombshell Treat Bar, which makes Instagram-worthy ice cream pops dipped in various flavors of Belgian chocolate.
At the time, Kasle’s gourmet ice cream bar business was nonexistent. Instead, she worked in corporate America, doing event planning for auto companies.
While going to culinary school had always been a dream for the now 48-year-old Birmingham resident, she just “didn’t have the guts to do it,” she explains. Therefore, event planning was the next best thing, where food would always be a part of the picture.
Yet the dual diagnosis for both Jill and Matt changed everything. “While we were both being treated, I felt the need to focus on creating something that would involve the kids and get them excited,” Kasle explains. “Something that took me away from all the negatives that surrounded our health situation.”
A Sweet Surprise in Montreal
During downtime, Kasle researched different food concepts. She was drawn to the culinary scene in Montreal, Canada, and decided to plan a trip with her family. As a self-proclaimed “choco-holic,” Kasle, who needs to have dessert every day, asked her husband to find a unique dessert joint in the city that they could visit during their trip.
Matt discovered a tiny ice cream shop on a cobblestone street that was glowing turquoise. There was a long line out the door. Once they got inside, Kasle was “blown away” by what she saw: the shop offered vanilla soft-serve that could be dipped in more than 30 flavors of Belgian chocolate, which then hardened into a magic shell.
“It would become like a candy bar,” Kasle recalls. “I was buzzing with excitement, and I walked out and said, ‘I have to do this.’”
At the time, Kasle didn’t know much about chocolate, other than her love for the flavor profile. Yet the idea stuck with her, and she began to develop a business plan to open a gourmet ice cream bar inspired by the tiny storefront in Montreal. “I pitched it to a couple of people, and I was told not to do it,” Kasle explains, “that I wouldn’t make any money.”
Discouraged for several months, one day Kasle woke up with a different mindset: She was going to bring her idea to life. “When you come from being sick, it’s so important to be around positive energy,” she says. “I wanted to give something to someone that makes them smile. I just felt I had to block out the negative and try.”
From Soft-Serve to Popsicles
Through a contact in the restaurant industry, Kasle connected with a contract culinary expert to help develop Belgian chocolate recipes. With 12 flavor profiles ready to go, the idea hit another roadblock: the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now, there was no way for me to get this out into the public,” Kasle recalls.
Instead of using soft-serve like the shop in Montreal, she had to pivot to something more realistic. “I realized the only way I could get this into people’s hands is if I used a popsicle and I dipped the popsicle in chocolate,” she says.
Pivoting to an idea that’s portable and possible to package and deliver, Kasle officially launched her business during COVID-19 by delivering to people’s homes. Her husband, Matt, served and continues to serve as co-owner and “right hand ice cream man.”
Bombshell Treat Bar’s original Party Pops Boxes came with sampler bars delivered contact-free across Metro Detroit. Kasle also found a dedicated employee, “Chef Tori,” who could work with her around-the-clock on making ice cream products and fine-tuning Belgian chocolate recipes. Tori, ironically, doesn’t like chocolate, which Kasle says worked out perfectly for creating standout recipes that everyone would love.
As things began to open back up, Kasle brought her products to farmers markets, where they offered a different menu each month with unique flavor profiles. Bombshell Treat Bar, which was now becoming more well-known around the area, was promoted entirely by word-of-mouth, especially by mothers in Birmingham and Bloomfield.
The biggest flavor hit, Kasle says, was a sweet and salty ice cream bar made with potato chip ice cream. It was dipped in dark Belgian chocolate, then rolled in crushed Better Made potato chips and Rold Gold pretzels, finally topped with edible gold glitter stars, gooey caramel and pink Himalayan sea salt. “That one was a showstopper,” Kasle recalls.
A World of Flavors
Priding herself on using premium ingredients, Kasle says people are drawn to Bombshell Treat Bar because of its high-quality products and unique flavors, which range from key lime pie to plain ol’ traditional Belgian chocolate. Using premium ingredients, Kasle says, is something she’ll never compromise on.
“You can go to Dairy Queen and get a cone dipped in chocolate, but it’s all wax and flavor oils,” she says. “There’s no chocolate in the chocolate dip and it leaves a waxy residue on your tongue. With our chocolate, it’s pure chocolate. It has the crunch.”
Bombshell Treat Bar also creates dairy-free ice cream bar options, which Kasle says is important to her brand.
In addition to offering a standard menu of select flavor profiles, they also have flavors unique to holidays, like Christmas, Kwanzaa and Chanukah.
A Halloween set of gourmet ice cream bars, for example, included Candy Corn-ish and Purple People Eater, which were vanilla popsicles dipped in caramel and grape-flavored chocolate. A dairy-free option, Snack for Drac, incorporated a cranberry peach popsicle with dark chocolate, red sugar crystals and bat-shaped sprinkles, while Mummy Dearest, on the other hand, had a milk-and-cookies popsicle in a cookie dough shell.
“Our goal is to show how versatile and creative we can be,” Kasle explains.
Now, Kasle, who is a member of Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township, has returned to her event planning roots, combining the best of both worlds. Bombshell Treat Bar caters to a wide variety of events, including weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, corporate events and more.
Eventually, she’d like to open a brick-and-mortar store just like the one that inspired her several years back in Montreal, when things were tough, and she simply needed a smile.
“I really believe it has legs,” Kasle says of her vision, “and that it can go many places.”