You may have heard of the CBD (cannabinol) craze that recently entered the UK food and drink market. That would be the non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, if we’re being precise. It was legalised in the UK last year and has been enjoying a bit of publicity largely thanks to the perception that is has a relaxing, calming effect and can relieve pain.
Across the pond, however, cannabis itself has been making serious headway in the retail market as more and more states legalise recreational use of the drug. California, for instance, is getting a new brand of cannabis-infused cookies called Half-Baked this year, courtesy of healthy snack brand Nightfood.
Before then, however, the same company has plans to launch a ‘sleep friendly’ ice cream, set for release February 2019.
Perhaps surprisingly, this product doesn’t contain CBD or cannabis as the company isn’t trying to make consumers drowsy but rather enable or initiate a more natural sleep with the right ingredients.
According to market research company IRI Worldwide, Americans snack 44% of the time at night, which reportedly places the yearly US night-time snack market at a little over $50bn.
So what’s the deal with the CBD-less, sleepy-time ice cream? And do we have anything in the UK that’s close to it?
Make mine a Chocamine
Nightfood’s latest release will join its nutrition bar duo, Midnight Chocolate Crunch and Cookies & Dreams, which are also tuned towards enabling consumers to snack late without the threat of being kept up all night.
The brand claims that the best snacks for close to bedtime contain complex carbs, are high in fibre, have small amounts of protein and sodium, are low on the glycaemic index and sit at around 150 calories.
The new range of ice cream – the first major expansion since the release of the nutrition bars back in 2010 – will come in eight different flavours, including vanilla and chocolate chip cookie dough. Cherry Eclipse flavour even features a specific type of cherry that’s naturally highest in melatonin, which helps regulate the natural sleep-wake cycle.
Another of the ingredients found in a number of Nightfood’s new ice cream flavours is Chocamine, a patented, caffeine-free cocoa extract that, according to the brand’s CEO, Sean Folkson, “is a perfect night-time ingredient that helps focus and calm the mind, and suppress cravings.”
Chocamine is said to taste just like chocolate but without any of the sugar, fat or caffeine, while RFI, the company behind the extract, claims that it helps improve focus, concentration and short-term memory.
Instead of caffeine, Chocamine relies on theobromine, a similar energy-releasing compound that is naturally occurring in the cacao plant and has a mild, mood-improving effect.
“It’s not about dropping an Ambien or some sleep aid into the product; it’s about making ice cream in a way that’s less disruptive,” Folkson said.
One of the only similar sleep-aid products to Nightfood’s expanding range comes from US brand Good Day Chocolate, which is made with Fairtrade milk chocolate and contains 1mg of melatonin per piece.
While Chocamine is found in the UK, its presence is largely limited to supplements and protein bars, which could mean there is a gap in the UK market for a product akin to Nightfood’s ice cream range.
There are, of course, more natural ways that are said to facilitate slumber, including bananas, almonds, honey and oats. Or perhaps a drop of CBD oil.
What’s attractive about the concept behind Nightfood’s frozen treat is that it also offers guilt-free indulgence – an attribute that has seen success for Halo Top, the low-cal ice cream that is the number-one tub in the US and has racked up £13m of sales since launching in the UK at the beginning of 2018.
After all, Brits also binge on Netflix late at night with a tub of ice cream, right?