Monday, July 26, 2010

Dippin' Dots - Huntington Beach

What does it mean when something that bills itself as "The Ice Cream of the Future®" instills nostalgia? It means I'm getting older.

Unless you happen to frequent Boomers or amusement parks, Dippin' Dots--once the rage in malls along with Spencers Gifts and other 80's relics--are a rare sight these days. The novelty was invented back in 1987 by a university graduate student who took a good idea (to freeze ice cream droplets in liquid nitrogen) and turned it into a business. To put it perspective, that's the year of Dirty Dancing. Where we you then? If you were a teenage girl, you were possibly in a mall eating one, snapping gum, listening to Madonna, your hair in an Aquanet coif.

Me, I was probably with fellow nerds playing the original Legend of Zelda on an NES. Oh how that gold cartridge shined!

Eating these ice cream pellets thawed out memories frozen in time and made me realize how far we've come from our youth. Also, it made me remember how damned cold these things are! After the fifth spoonful, my tongue was thoroughly in a state of cryo-stasis, numbed and sapped of warmth. Before that happened I was actually able to enjoy the ice cream, which really did taste like banana split and birthday cake, two flavors created by mixing other pellets together.

Excuse me while I queue up Walk Like An Egyptian on the iTunes.

Dippin' Dots‎
(714) 963-4549
19742 Beach Boulevard
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-2988

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17 Comments:

At 5:27 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

This exactly was "in the fad" when I was a young kid. I wonder even how the Dippin Dots in my mall stays open for business. Rarely any customers visit.

Maybe the frozen yogurt places will end up like this in a few years. It sure doesn't look like it will though!

Ooh, I like banana split flavor too. The first and second time I had it, I had rainbow. :) But the rainbow in HK tasted better than the US version.

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger digkv said...

Ha well I wasn't born yet in 1987 but I do remember eating dippin' dots as a kid. I didn't have it often since it was kind of expensive but it was always fun to eat it dot by dot, trying the individual banana, strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate dots, and then all at once. It's amazing how it really does taste like a banana split with each flavor coming in its own. The thing with dippin'dots though is that it doesn't really hit the spot when you want ice cream, it's just not as smooth and creamy since it's well, dots.

 
At 8:45 PM, Anonymous JB said...

Elmo, in 1987, you were typing out reviews of mozzarella sticks and microwave popcorn using WordPerfect, and printing them out for your friends.....

 
At 9:40 PM, Blogger Sawyer said...

i really do remember that ice cream of the future bit when i was a kid, but i never knew there was an actual joint...i've only seen the little carts around. how much was it btw?

 
At 6:08 AM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

Ha! I knew someone was going to say they weren't born yet.

I was in middle school in the late 80s. Ratted hair with big, puffy bangs and a perm that made my hair triangular. :P

 
At 6:41 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

EatTravelEat,

Yes, you're right, I also predict the froyo craze will end up like this, relegated to amusement parks and the like. Of course, there weren't that many Dippin Dots imitators since the process is patented.

And why is it that things taste better in other countries? I had McDonalds in HK once, and it tasted better than here also. Of course, it was an item exclusive to HK (green tea ice cream if I recall correctly), so I guess it's automatically better than the hot fudge sundae they serve here!

digkv,

Well, if I felt old before I wrote this review, I feel older after reading your comment! You weren't even born yet?! Dang.

I agree though, it doesn't have the same mouthfeel as ice cream, in fact it takes any feeling away from your mouth, since it's so cold!

JB,

HAH! WordPerfect. Such a great program! They don't make them like that any more. Literally. Though at that age, my reviews would've be exclusively about Transformers...cuz they were soooo cool! Megatron especially!

Sawyer,

It's quite expensive. $3.75 for that small cup you see. But one thing I didn't mention was that a small cup is actually plenty of ice cream. Since the beads are solid, it's dense with no room for air. So calorically and in reality, it feels like you're eating a big serving of ice cream. I was satisfied after one cupful.

Wandering Chopsticks,

I knew young-un's read this blog but the shocking realization I had when I read digkv's comment is he and his peers are already in their twenties! Last time I checked, they were just getting their driver's licenses! Sheesh!!

But now I want to see your triangular hair!

 
At 9:23 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Things taste better outside the country since they are special and different! Last time I went to Hong Kong I had the McPepper which was two pork patties with lettuce and black pepper sauce. About 6 years ago, I had a korean beef flatbread wrap which was SO good. It didn't even seem like anything fast food.

And Elmo, I wasn't born before 1987 either. Nor the early 1990s. :)

 
At 6:16 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

EatTravelEat,

Ah-ya! The nineties?! Yikes. Well, I guess I better get used to this. In the next few years I'll get commenters born in the naughts.

Anyway, it's funny, I tend to eat at McDonald's more when I'm in other parts of the world than I do here. In Hawaii, for instance, McD's have awesome haupia pies and the cheapest local breakfast with rice, eggs and Spam!

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger caninecologne said...

hi - i never had dippin' dots in the 80's. it was too expensive and it kinda still is. i recently had it at a recent mall outing. not too crazy about the tiny little pieces. i like my ice cream to be creamy, not pellety.

oh yeah, i graduated high school in 87, was totally into the cult, echo and the bunnymen and depeche mode (who wasn't? haha). i also tapered my own levi's to make them super skinny, had an asymetrical haircut with bangs over one eye!!!

 
At 7:38 PM, Anonymous fotographiafoodie said...

I've never even heard of those before! Interesting!!

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Johnny Automatic said...

I'm with fotographia. Until they showed up at Angel Stadium a couple of years ago this stuff was completely off my radar. When I did I wrote it off as the kind of over=priced novelty that children beg their parents to buy for them.

 
At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Das Ubergeek said...

digkv,

Consarn it, get off my lawn!!

Elmo,

I don't think I've ever actually eaten an entire serving of these. They were so expensive that we would buy one and share it amongst six of us, right before we walked uphill in three feet of snow.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

caninecologne,

And you changed your avatar to Jeff Spicoli! Quite appropriate to this thread! Bravo!

foto,

I'm not surprised some haven't heard of it before. They're decidedly elusive, like cotton candy and deep fried Snickers. Definitely a county-fair or amusement park thing.

Johnny,

Still a lot better than astronaut ice cream at the check-out line at Fry's though. And I found out that they can't even bring that stuff up in space--too crumbly!

Das,

One serving is deceptively small, but equal to a scoop of real ice cream...or at least it felt that way. Eating them gets harder the more it freezes your mouth.

 
At 7:57 PM, Blogger caninecologne said...

hi elmo - ha ha - yeah, jeff spicoli is awesome!

 
At 3:41 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Going, going going GONE. Dippin Dots are expensive. Overpriced cold bee bees, not worth the price. Unfortunately the only one getting rich is Curt Jones the inventor. He's bilked tons of money out people who only wanted to live the American Dream of owning their own business. However, the costs far outweigh the return on your investment and countless Dippin' Dots stores that opened in the last 4 yrs have closed, most in just 18 months of business...like the HB store, the Long Beach store, the Rancho Cucamonga, Chino Hills...gone.

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Someone read my comment and reposted it on another blog--which is totally fine with me, however another poster mis-read my post. I am not a disgruntled former owner of 18 Dippin' Dots stores in Nevada or Utah. I was an owner of 2 Dippin' Dots stores in Long Beach, CA. We were one of the few stores in LA County, in fact the first retail store in LA County. We owned our stores for 5 yrs. In that time, we saw Curt Jones lose his case against Mini Melts for patient infringement. http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/476/476.F3d.1337.2005-1582.2005-1330.html
Because of the huge court costs, legal fees etc Dippin Dots corp started an all out push to take things to the next level which met adding new franchisees and pushing existing franchisees to have multiple stores. A franchiser makes money selling franchises, product and equipment. In the 5 yrs we were around, we saw multiple stores go up and close. 26 stores have closed in CA. Check out the dippindots.com site and you will find many vending machines and amusement park locations but few actual stores. Why? Because the DD system knows retail stores don't work but insisted one franchisees, like us have a retail store in order to do outside events, like carnivals or amusement parks where there is little overhead and huge profits. Unfortunately the DD system is very disorganized. The had old dealers who did not have to buy a retail store but could compete with retail store owners for outside events. Additionally they raised the price of ice cream so that a franchisees cost of a single gallon is $22.00 and only serves about 20 of their 5oz cup. In this economy no one is willing to pay $4.00 a cup at a store when they can go to Rite Aid and pay a $1.00.

The one store left in Orange County is making it by scooping up (ha ha forget the pun) all the outside events left by other store owners who could not afford to keep their doors open. The last store standing really does nothing to promote the product and give the entire DD company an impression of a dying fad!

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Jackie said...

Going, going NOT! It's quite interesting to read this three years later. Dippin' Dots is going strong and growing even bigger. Soon you will see them in many more places. Although some things are fads, I don't think you would call Dippin' Dots celebrating its 25th year a fad. I agree that the store concept wasn't well thought out, however people still love the little beads of goodness and will continue into future generations.

 

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