Back in the olden days, making handmade ice cream meant swinging a crank until your hand cramped and arm felt like jelly. These days, it's a quick blast, a puff of hazy smoke and the coldest, creamiest treat around. At least, that's according to Sub Zero Ice Cream, a dessert shop that sells custom-made treats flash-frozen in 15 seconds with liquid nitrogen.
Does the process really create better tasting ice cream? North Texans can soon find out for themselves. The national chain's newest franchise is now open in Flower Mound, and its owners plan to open a total of 15 new Texas stores in places like Irving, Euless and Waco over the next four years, a release says.
According to the company website, slower freezing time can result in the formation of large ice crystals, which causes cream to become grainy. Liquid nitrogen takes the temps down, way down to -321 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of seconds.
"Since Zub Zero ice cream is frozen so quickly, the ice crystals hardly have a chance to grow, which results in extremely small ice crystals and the smoothest, creamiest ice cream possible," the site says.
It gets nerdier. (In a good way.) The company claims that having employees hand-mix the cream while it's freezing, rather than using a machine, means less air is whipped into the cream. As a result, the finished product is "extremely dense ... adding to the creaminess and quality ... as well as giving the customer extra value for the purchase."
Denser ice cream means it melts more slowly, the site says.
At a Sub Zero Ice Cream shop, customers first choose a base cream from a variety of options including low-fat, vegan and sugar free.
Then, they pick a flavor like classic chocolate or more adventurous concoctions such as cotton candy, bubble gum, watermelon or Nutella. Flavors vary from store-to-store, based on regional tastes.
Finally, they pick mix-ins from a variety of nuts, fruit and candy like waffle cone bits, cheesecake bikes, coconut flakes or gummy bears. Employees mix together those choices in a bowl and give it a blast of liquid nitrogen. Voila.
Like to try something different? Keep an eye out for the special "Sensation on the Month," which features flavor and mix-in options not on the regular menu.
Who are the sharks?
Oh, sorry, that's a different show. But, Sub Zero Ice Cream did pitch to Mark Cuban and company on ABC's Shark Tank.
Creators Jerry and Naomi Hancock opened their first Sub Zero Ice Cream shop in Provo, Utah, in 2004, and the liquid nitrogen craze caught on, big time. They began licensing franchises and appeared in the tank in 2013.
The Sharks were intrigued and loved the taste, but ultimately agreed that the Hancocks would be better off continuing as they were.
"I think you can get there on your own and still own your whole company," Lori Greiner told them.
The Flower Mound shop is owned by brothers Neil, Vinnie and Jatin Patel, who also know a thing or two about business success. The Patels own ten Little Caesars Pizza locations, and they plan to rapidly scale Sub Zero Ice Cream in the area. Their goal is to open 15 Texas locations in four years, according to a press release.
Jatin says it's the "wow-factor" and "profitable business model" that enticed the brothers to the Sub Zero game.
Sound sort of familiar?
Over the last year, Thai-style rolled ice cream has made a big boom in North Texas, and we'd be remiss to not bring up the similarities. Spots like Orchid City Fusion Cafe, Chills 360 and I-CE-NY are among the purveyors that have been rolling up gorgeous treats in D-FW. Lines have been long. Locals seem into it.
Also sometimes called "stir-fried ice cream," the process generally involves pouring liquid cream and mix-ins onto a very cold metal plate and hand mixing with metal paddles that "chop and smash the ingredients together and spread it into a thin layer," the I-CE-NY website explains.
From there, employees use the paddles to scrape the cream from the plate, rolling it into a beautiful presentation. It takes about 2 minutes to freeze at a temperature of -15 degrees Fahrenheit, the site says.
If you're wondering how all of this differs from that old mall favorite, Cold Stone Creamery, well, note that their ice cream is already frozen when you pick your flavor combinations. The eponymous cold stone keeps it that way during the mix-in process.
Is one type better than the others? That's for you to decide.
Luckily, there are a lot of options. Better try each a few times to be sure.
Sub Zero Ice Cream is now open at 3721 Justin Road, Suite 150, in Flower Mound. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and noon to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.