Dippin' Dots is a trendy ice cream snack created through "cryogenic encapsulation," or flash-freezing ice cream in liquid nitrogen. They consist of tiny beads of ice cream, in a variety of flavours, that are served either in a cup or in a foil pouch. They must be stored at temperatures below the normal range of a home freezer, so they are not widely sold in supermarkets. Instead, fans of Dippin' Dots can either visit one of the hundreds of franchised locations and vending machines sprinkled throughout the country, or directly from Dippin' Dots over the Internet.
Dippin' Dot Com
The easiest answer to your child's wide-eyed question of "where can you get Dippin' Dots?" is the Internet. At the company's website (see Resources, below) you can buy quantities of Dippin' Dots in individual pouches or cups. As of 2009, £94 will get you either 25 pouches of up to five flavours, or 30 cups of all the same flavour, along with spoons and a foam cooler. For an extra £32 you get 50 pouches of up to 10 flavours or 60 cups of two flavours, while for £139 Dippin' Dots will send you 90 cups of up to three flavours. Pouches come in nine flavours, including vanilla, banana split, chocolate, strawberry, and strawberry cheesecake yoghurt. Dippin' Dots has four additional flavours available in cups only: watermelon, tropical tie-dye, peanut butter chip, fudge, and candyfloss.
Dippin' Dots are fast becoming ubiquitous at amusement centres and theme parks, from Boomer's to Sea World, Six Flags and even Legoland in California. That's not surprising, considering the little beads were given their first big break at Opryland USA shortly after they were brought to market in the late 1980s by inventor Curt Jones, a microbiologist from Pulaski County, Ill. Dippin' Dots also are available at select McDonald's fast-food restaurants and, thanks to an aggressive franchise program, through carts and kiosks in shopping malls, zoos, water parks, stadiums, arenas, aquariums, theatres and other attractions. According to the company's website, as of mid-2009 Dippin' Dots "can be found in over 1,500 locations throughout the country."
To find the Dippin' Dots location closest to you, visit the company's online store locator (see Resources, below) and type in your city and state or Postcode. As an example, typing in the 90210 Postcode, for Carlsbad, Calif., identifies 13 locations within a 30-mile radius, including two movie theatres, a bowling alley, Legoland, an ice-skating rink and the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
Dippin' Dots are also available outside the United States. In 1995, Dippin' Dots signed its first international license, with Japan. That same year, an Australian distribution centre for Dippin' Dots opened in Melbourne. In 2004, the Dippin' Dots Global subsidiary was formed to further international expansion. Dippin' Dots broke into both Canada and Panama in 2005, followed a year later by The Netherlands and, in 2007, by Colombia.
While Dippin' Dots must be stored at a temperature a little colder than the average American home freezer, the company is still hoping to break into supermarkets. Kroger supermarkets in the Midwest in 2006 began testing a new product called Dots 'n Cream, regular ice cream enhanced by beads of Dippin' Dots.