In Memoriam: David Mintz, Tofutti

David Mintz, the inventor of Tofutti vegan ice cream, passed on February 24, 2021, at the age of 89. His impact on the industry will not be forgotten.

David Mintz(1931–2021), inventor of Tofutti

Born in Brooklyn on June 8, 1931, Mintz is founded Tofutti Brands, headquartered in Cranford, NJ, in 1981 and served as CEO until his passing. The company offers a full line of plant-based products, including cheese products, frozen desserts, and prepared frozen dishes. Tofutti foods are Kosher Parve and prepared to the highest quality standards, which has earned high praise and a loyal following from consumers. Success didn’t always come easily, though; Mintz struggled to get Tofutti off the ground, yet never wavered in his passion for dairy-free foods. “Many times I would throw the towel in, and the next morning, I’d pick it up and start all over again,” Mintz shared with WholeFoods in a 2013 profile. “It was another day. And I did that for years.”

Mintz started his career as the owner of Mintz Buffet, a Kosher restaurant in New York City dedicated to making delicious food. His interest in tofu started in the 1970s, after customers ordered ice cream for dessert. Because the restaurant was kosher, it was against the rules to mix dairy with meat, and Mintz had to deny the request. But, as he told WholeFoods, that was the beginning of something great: “One day I was reading a whole food magazine and they talked about tofu,” Mintz shared. “I didn’t know what that was. It explained that tofu takes on the flavors of anything you want, but it’s tasteless by itself.” And so, Mintz began working on recipes and perfecting his desert, with many ups and downs along the way.

“If you have an idea, and if it doesn’t work right away, you can’t just quit,” Mintz told us. “There’s no room for quitters. We try to leave that out of our vocabulary. Quitting doesn’t exist.”

Heather Wainer, Publisher of WholeFoods Magazine, recalls Mintz fondly. “It has been a long time since I have seen David. He was always so kind-hearted and such an innovator, who opened to door for dairy-free alternatives. We have always been proud of our association with Toffutti and know that all at his company will continue his legacy.”

Read more about his inspiring journey and the legacy he leaves in The Tale of Tofutti.