When's the last time you saw an ice cream truck? Years ago, during the summer months, during the short time between dinner and sunset, the kids in my neighborhood and those nearby, would strain their ears to hear the bells and the music of the Ice Cream Man. The younger kids would never have the foresight to beg their parents for coins before the colorful van arrived and would scramble to beg their parents for money only after it arrived on the scene. The older children, of course, knew the routine and would make sure they remembered to ask for ice cream money before they went outside to play after dinner. Most parents were happy to, on occasion, fund the convenient after-dinner treat.
Ice cream trucks have been popular in the U.S. since the 1950s. Early trucks were not nearly as advanced as those of today and the refrigeration relied solely on the use of dry ice. While the early ice cream trucks had a very limited selection of treats, the variety quickly grew to include many types of novelty ice creams, popsicles and sandwiches. Many carry sodas, candies, potato chips and cookies.
And then came Dippin' Dots, the "Ice Cream of the Future". Invented in 1987, the refreshing treat is created by flash freezing ice cream mix in liquid nitrogen which results in tiny beads of ice cream. Flavors could be combined into tasty combinations and enjoyed with a spoon. Because the product required storage at extremely cold temperatures, it was not sold in grocery stores because they couldn't meet the extreme freezer requirements. It was sold in individual servings in stadiums, shopping malls, vending machines and theme parks. It was also sold in some McDonald's restaurants for a short time.
Unfortunately, lawsuits, a failing economy and other factors led the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2011. It looked like the end for the unique treat.
But the Ice Cream of the Future may still have a future after all! Last month, investors from Oklahoma created Dippin' Dots LLC and recently announced that they will soon ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Louisville, Kentucky for permission to take over the company's operations.
So, someday soon, Dippin' Dots might once again be enjoyed by fans across the country. Perhaps, technology will advance to the point that ice cream trucks will be able to store and serve the frozen treat in neighborhoods like yours and mine.
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