The U.S. Air Force helped develop the best fighter aircraft in the world, most experts agree—the F-22 Raptor.

The U.S. Air Force also helped develop the world’s healthiest ice cream—sort of. That’s according to Air Force veteran Robert “Bobby” Walker.

He would know. He perfected the recipe that uses bananas and other natural ingredients to create a frozen dessert called Fronana that tastes like soft-serve ice cream with no added sugar or artificial ingredients. He touts his dessert as “the ice cream for everyone.”

So how, exactly, did the U.S. Air Force help develop Fronana? Well, they fed Walker while he was a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Fed him quite well, actually—a nutritious meal on time, every day.

But once he graduated from the Air Force Academy Walker decided he was an adult. And adults get to choose what they eat. So he decided his new meal plan would stick to what he calls the three main food groups—you know, pizza, beer and ice cream.

“And that was great,” says Walker. “Until I had to take the fitness test.”

Yeah, those darn fitness tests got in the way of Walker’s new meal plan. “I didn’t do very well,” he says. So Walker decided to come up with a new nutrition plan, one that cut out processed food and added sugar.

“But I still had this huge sweet tooth,” he says. That’s when he stumbled on the “magical” properties of bananas. He found that putting frozen bananas in a blender and combining them with other natural ingredients made a delicious dessert with the texture of soft-serve ice cream.

He knew he had a winning product when a friend asked him to bring his new dessert to her birthday party. When that friend became upset because people at the party were more excited about the dessert than her birthday Walker knew he had a product that was marketable to others.

So Walker started officially making his frozen banana dessert in 2011 and for three or four years after made it one pint at a time in a Ninja blender. After separating from the Air Force Walker decided to go all in on his frozen dessert business.

“Our first big challenge was trying to figure out how to make it scale,” he says. “So I bought a second Ninja blender.” Needless to say that strategy was not going to be efficient enough to make the large quantities of Fronana he needed.

Then he used a large blender at a facility in Columbus. “At one point I was spending three and a half hours driving to the other side of Columbus to spend eight hours standing over a blender that made the stuff,” Walker says. “And that doesn’t scale very well.”

But then Walker saw a company demonstrating its gelato machine at a food trade show. “I thought, well this is pretty interesting. They’re putting this liquid mix in and 15 minutes later this perfect gelato comes out.”

The next morning he brought some bananas to the trade show and in front of a couple of hundred people made the first large batch of Fronana commercially on the trade show floor, he says. He now uses the gelato machine to make his soft-serve dessert.

Then, on July 20, 2014, Walker launched the first FronanaMobile—a bicycle hitched to a wagon with a big cooler mounted on it—at the Third on 3rd Outdoor Market and the amount of business was encouraging, he says. “It was coincidentally and accidentally on National Ice Cream Day in 2014,” he says. Walker then opened the Fronana Scoop Shop and Creamery at 27 W. First St. exactly one year later. It’s now only open on special occasions.

That’s because Walker’s business plan for Fronana centers on selling pints of his product on the shelves in grocery stores. “That’s what we’ve really focused on,” he says. The first store to carry his product was the Dorothy Lane Market. Then smaller food stores in Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus started carrying Fronana.

The biggest break so far for Walker’s product came when officials at the Kroger store on Stroop Road heard about the success Fronana was having at the Dorothy Lane Market. “Kroger was really interested in having us onboard,” he says.

Kroger has a program that showcases local products like Fronana, Walker says. But the problem is it didn’t have freezer space for a local product. “So I was like, ‘Well, what if we brought our own freezer?’”

It worked. The idea was such a success that officials with the Kroger stores in Beavercreek and Austin Landing heard about it and wanted Fronana freezers in their stores. “We were really starting to ramp this thing up,” says Walker.

But a problem soon popped up, he says. “Somebody from corporate (at Kroger) discovered that we had been sort of, uh, circumventing their purchasing department and putting these freezers in their stores and wasn’t very happy about it.”

Walker says he is now going through Kroger’s corporate officials and negotiating with them to expand into more stores. “The nice part is we have a nice little sort of case study. We’re like, ‘Look, we did really well in your stores in this way so if we can do this again we’re going to do really well together.’”

In the meantime, Walker says about a dozen school districts are now carrying Fronana products in little snack size cups. The kids love it because they think it’s ice cream and the schools love it because it’s a full serving of fruit. “It’s just a win-win,” says Walker.

The company also recently launched its online scoop shop on its website at fronanaforlife.com. Pints of Fronana can be sent packed in dry ice to friends and family in the continental United States with the two-day shipping program, says Walker. Flavors include Rich Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Wildberry Whirl, Mango Pineapple and Fromocha, he says.

And all that deliciousness is courtesy (sort of) of the U.S. Air Force.

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