Too much ice cream?!

“Oh, that’s a lot of ice cream.”

“My kid will never eat all that.”

“Can you put smaller scoops in the next one?”

These are a few of the statements we hear almost every night after customers receive their order. Our ice cream is served two ways: in a cup or in a miniature batting helmet. When customers order, I tell them that the cup holds two scoops while the helmet holds three. They are also told the ice cream will sit higher than the top of either container.

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The miniature batting helmet is a popular treat at FirstEnergy Stadium and most fans are surprised when the ice cream comes up over the top of the helmet itself. (Photo: Amanda Cain)

They’re still surprised when they see the final product.

After the initial shock wears off, things can get complicated. More often than not, the customer will decide that it is too much ice cream. While I never knew there was such a thing, this turns into us being asked to take some of the ice cream back. This is when it gets interesting.

The one thing most people don’t understand is that once we serve the ice cream, we can’t put some of it back in the freezer. Instead, we have to throw it away. While this doesn’t happen very often during the season, it’s still frustrating because that ice cream could have gone to another customer.

The second most common reaction is to ask for another cup to put some of the excess ice cream in. This would be the best solution to the problem except for one tiny detail. All of the cups are inventoried before and after each game and those numbers are matched with the totals in the register. As a result, we have to charge for any soda or ice cream cup that we hand out. Most of our customers are understanding when we explain this, but every now and then we get the occasional grumbler who will ask two or three times before leaving.

The worst reaction to the amount of ice cream is the “order change.”

An “order change” is when a customer decides after they have been served that they want something different. This reaction typically comes after a customer who ordered a helmet receives said helmet and realizes how much ice cream is actually in three scoops. When a customer decides they want to change their order, a few things must take place. First, we have to take back the ice cream they were already given and mark it down as a waste. Second, the order has to be reversed in the register and the new order has to be rung up. In most instances, the customer receives money back because the smaller item costs less. The other issue we have when customers change their minds is when we have a line of people waiting to order, and we then have to go back and remake an order that was already completed.

The one thing we don’t understand is that people don’t typically go into an ice cream shop and complain about the amount of ice cream they are receiving. Also, people don’t seem to understand that when it is 95 degrees outside, the ice cream is going to melt quickly. If you want to get your child ice cream, but are worried about them having too much simply order the smaller size. We are more than willing to make your servings smaller if you simply ask when ordering; just be aware that the price will remain the same even if you ask for less ice cream.

If there is one thing that we have taken away from these types of experiences, it is to make sure that a customer is absolutely sure they want what they are ordering before serving them. This will make it easier for both them and us and will save us time and merchandise in the end.

Is it ice cream?

In the upstairs ice cream stand, we sell a small variety of ice cream products. Aside from chocolate, vanilla, and black and tan ice cream, we also sell ice cream sandwiches, chocolate chip cookie sandwiches, popsicles, Choco Tacos, Sour Patch Kids, and Swedish fish.  There is one other item that we sell in the upstairs ice cream stand that causes customers quite a bit of confusion: Dippin’ Dots.

Dippin’ Dots are tiny balls of ice cream that are basically flash frozen using liquid nitrogen and then kept at a much colder temperature than regular ice cream.  The freezer we keep the Dippin’ Dots in is typically kept at -39 degrees.  When they were first created they were marketed as “the ice cream of the future.”  They’ve been around for a few years now and there are still lots of people who get confused by them.

The main thing that confuses people is whether or not they are actually ice cream.  I guess I can understand this confusion.  When you think of ice cream, you don’t imagine tiny, round balls that look more like small pebbles than anything else.  Most people think of scoops of ice cream or a cone of soft serve like what you get at Dairy Queen.  Dipping’ Dots, on the other hand, look nothing like your typical dessert.  The best way I can describe the way they look would be to say they almost look like freeze-dried food; something you would eat in space – only they taste much better.

My favorite part about selling Dippin’ Dots is listening to people try to order them.  I’m not sure which part of Dippin’ Dots is so hard to say, but we have heard a wide range of different pronunciations and all together wrong names over the years.  People have asked for the pebbles, the balls, dots, dip dots, dippy dots, and, my personal favorite, dippity dots.  The final pronunciation was a true test for Ariane and me.  It took everything we had to not start laughing, especially when the customer kept repeating herself.

I’m not exactly sure where the name confusion comes from. The sign for the Dippin’ Dots is on the wall of the stand, directly behind the register. It is a big, blue sign that says Dippin’ Dots in big letters across the top – the kind that’s hard to miss. What’s even more confusing is that most people notice the sign, but instead of reading it they assume it is a list of ice cream flavors. While it is a list of flavors, it is not the ice cream they think it is.

I’ve had the privilege to sell this frozen novelty for the past three years and I still hear new interpretations of the name every now and then. After trying to explain exactly what Dippin’ Dots are for the last few summers, I think I finally landed on the best description: it’s ice cream frozen into dots.