The "Ice Cream of the Future" Goes the Way of Solyndra


Mascot of the future

Kentucky-based Dippin' Dots filed for bankruptcy this morning, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Dippin' Dots Inc., the self-described "ice cream of the future," filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Paducah, Ky., near its headquarters, after fighting off foreclosure efforts from Regions Bank for more than a year, according to court documents. At the time of the filing, the company owed about $11.1 million to the bank.

Company executives immediately asked for court permission to spend some of the cash collateral that secures the Regions Bank loan—a move to enable it to continue operating throughout the case.

The company "has no alternative borrowing source and to remain in business, the [company] must be permitted to use the cash proceeds described herein to pay general operating overhead and administrative expenses," its attorneys said in court documents.

Founded in 1987, the company became what it claimed simply by lasting as long as it did. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, founder and CEO Curt Jones said Dippin' Dots was preparing to expand beyond the Interstate rest stop/sporting venue market: 

"Bartenders don't like to make blended drinks because it takes too long," Jones

The killing machine of the future

said."We created a product called Island Rox. It's a bead with a margarita or daiquiri flavor. If you add beads to tequila, and it's a margarita or daiquiri." After two years of development, Island Rox is launching in five Nashville bars this year. 

The research and development offices in Paducah have been buzzing for the last few years. Jones' preview of future innovations include: a "magic shell" ice cream topping made from a cluster of free-rolling beads glued together "like a piece of popcorn"; frozen beads of high-protein supplements for smoothies; and a yogurt bead with a frozen blueberry and granola inside it.

Jones hopes this surge in pelletized creativity helps the company recapture its mid-90s giddiness. But he knows that he's done alright with for a microbiologist with a penchant for ice cream. "We started this thing in my garage," he said. "Once again, we're ready to launch things."

Related, via Lucy Steigerwald: "Time Traveler: Everyone In The Future Eats Dippin' Dots"

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  1. God, dippin’ dots are horrible. They’re the “Whitney” of ice cream.

    1. Good riddance.

      1. ^^THIS^^

        It was very frustrating as a teenager to go to a rest stop alongthe FL Turnpike and find only fucking dippin’ dots available rather than the usual bad ice cream.

    2. Thank zod we still have ‘Astronaut ice cream.’

    3. And the damn price tag! For that much, I want to see the time machine they’re pulling the things out of…

  2. At the time of the filing, the company owed about $11.1 million to the bank.

    So Dippin’ Dots just became the 99%?

    1. No. Its still a corporashun.

  3. Clearly, Obama has failed to save the [ice cream of the] future.

  4. I never liked Dipping Dots, but the idea is cool.

    1. ProL, you are clearly some kind of elitist 1%-er as evidenced by your refusal to use the folksy “Dippin'” in “Dippin’ Dots.”

      1. Oh, right. Sorry.

    2. I love Dipping Dots. This bankruptcy is a serious rain shower on my rainbow puppy island.

      1. SugarFree and I blame Jack Conway.

        1. Seems reasonable.

          1. Actually, it seems not only reasonable, but probable.

    3. I never had them. Are they as chalky and unpleasant as they sound?

      1. I’ve never had them either. Are they more of a regional thing? IIRC the McDonald’s in Canada featured them briefly in the 90’s but other than that I don’t seem to remember them ’round these parts much.

        1. I remember amusement parks having something called “astronaut ice cream” when I was a kid. I wonder if that’s the same stuff as Dippin’ Dots.

          1. That was freeze-dried ice cream.

          2. I’m assuming you’re talking about Cedar Point. And yes, it was the same chalky-tasting garbage.

            1. Kings Island, actually. The Beast is the most awesome roller coaster in the world.

              1. Assuming you like back injuries.

                But, yes, I still agree.

                1. Fuck yeah, I do. Remember how it used to be completely unsafe and you could stand up during the ride? Those were the days.

              2. Hell yeah. I had a season pass every year when I was a kid. Saw The Beast being built. I remember when they turned the Red Racer around so you could ride it backward.

                God, there was nothing like a slice of LaRosa’s pizza and a Coke when you were 12 years old and your parents just dropped you off at the gate for the first time in your life.

                1. Eating LaRosa’s and trying to come up with a strategy to finger some girl on the haunted log ride. Those were the days.

                  1. Haunted log ride? Pshaw. The best was to get them on the Keelboats and pull up their shirt to flash their titties as you went down the hill. At least then you’d have more of a souvenir than a stinky finger.

              3. Word. My friend power booted after riding the Beast back in ’87. Probably had more to do with the spoiled crab salad sandwich from Subway, but it was epic anyway!

          3. Astronaut ice cream is the freeze-dried stuff in the plastic packet, you fool.

            1. They had some kind of chocolate astronaut sticks when I was a kid, too.

              1. ProL, since your love of space-y stuff is well documented, you might enjoy this: my uncle (another space geek) is friends with an astronaut and recently visited him in Houston and got a crazy awesome tour of all kinds of stuff normal people never get to see. It was basically the greatest day of his life. At least until he visits him in Star City, Russia next year.

                1. That’s very cool. I’ve met one astronaut twice at the Cape, another one who was head of the Florida spaceport effort, and I sat next to the daughter of an astronaut at some dinner. That’s about it. My dad worked for a subcontractor during Apollo my first years of existence, which is where the bug started.

                  All shuttle astronauts, except for Story Musgrave, the one I met twice. I believe he was technically an Apollo astronaut, though he only went up on the shuttle.

              2. Yeah. We ate a lot of those when I was a kid:

                Space Food Sticks

                Food Stick boxes

                1. That’s it. Pretty popular with us kids back in the days when we sent people outside of LEO. Oh, wait, we don’t do that anymore, either.

            2. So then why the hell do Dippin’ Dots exist? I’m so confused.

              1. To challenge your premises.

                1. Dippin’ Dots do not exist. Check your premises.

                  1. I’m going to mail you some.

      2. They are tiny balls of sub-sub-zero ice cream. They are like been tasered in your mouth if you are even in the least bit sensitive to cold in your teeth.

        I felt that zap of cold all the way to the very bottom of my balls. It was horrible. I never ate them again.

        1. I felt that zap of cold all the way to the very bottom of my balls.

          To be fair, you weren’t supposed to dump them down the front of your pants.

        2. They are basically so cold that you can’t even taste them.

        3. That’s to keep the saccharin from breaking down. The ones made with sugar that normal humans can digest aren’t quite as cold.

          1. I didn’t have the sugar-free ones. Sounds hideous.

            1. Do they even make SF ones? I was just mocking your affliction.

          2. According to the wikipedia article I just read, you have it exactly backwards. They have to be frozen so cold because they are made with sugar and without stabilizers. Apparently some competitors have made similar products with artificial sweeteners to allow them to be stored at lower temps.

        4. And apparently, they need to be stored at below -20 F. Which pretty much rules out direct retail sales.

    4. This was my chance to be rich.

      I’m not joking. I grew up in Paducah, KY, and my father worked with one of the original guys who was creating Dippin’ Dots. They approached him to cosign on a loan for some start-up capital, and he thought the idea was too stupid and unworkable and said no.

      If he’d gotten in on the ground floor and sold in the mid-late 90s, we’d have been millionaires.

      1. And if you hadn’t banged all those dudes in all those bathhouses, you wouldn’t be dying of AIDS, Jimbo. If wishes were wings and all that.

        1. And there is the other aspect to this, which is that, being stubborn, if my father didn’t cash out at the height of it, and grimly held on waiting for things to turn around, our investment would be nearly worthless after this BK filing.

          1. I still think a Bob’s Fiesta Burger franchise would blow up. I literally would drive from Louisville for a Fiesta Burger. And a lime aid

      2. True story:

        When Bill Gates was still an itinerant hippy, he went into an attorney’s office wanting to set up a corporation for this newfangled software idea he had. He was light on cash, so he offered to pay the attorney in shares of the new corporation. The attorney (a friend of my father) turned him down, thinking there’s no way I’m doing work for this guy without cash on the barrel head.

        1. Well, your dad had probably consulted the actuarial tables on new corporations, so he did the smart thing. Does your dad have a PhD?

          1. “The attorney (a friend of my father)”

            1. One sentence? Unsubstantive.

              1. OFFS!

        2. That’s just a lawyer.

      3. I can understand being mad at parents for missing an opportunity, as my mother, a kindergarten teacher, found the gray M&M’s 9whenever that was) and threw them in the trash because she thought they were bad. It was only a few weeks later that she saw the commercial for the contest and told us she had found them. I really wish she had never told us. A million dollar prize, right in the fucking shitcan.

  5. Bartenders don’t like to make blended drinks because it takes too long

    Either you’re ordering blended drinks in the wrong goddamn bar, or those bartenders aren’t worth the buddy’s car they rode in on.

    Enjoy your Dippin-Daiquiri. May I recommend the Chicken O’Tenders?

    1. Hard to get a decent mojito. Most bars just pour some mint-flavored rum into your class. Ewwww.

      1. Is there even such a thing as a “decent Mojito?”

        1. Oh, sure. I had a great one in Cabo, of all places. Nice summer drink.

          I’m more of a mint julep person if I’m in the mood for minty booze, but mojitos are fine.

          1. Your love of deep-dish makes me skeptical of the Mojito.

            Can I get a more reliable person’s opinion, please? I may want to try one.

            1. It’s like pizza. There are sublime versions and there is mojito-in-the-bottle.

              I had a perfectly appalling mojito at a hotel in Lido Beach (near Sarasota). It was like some sort of tart lime abomination. It was strong in the alcoholic force, but that was it.

              1. I said your love of deep-dish. What could have caused you to completely change the subject and start talking about pizza?

              2. Isn’t there some kind of Cuban mafia in Florida that kills bartenders for serving bad mojitos? If there isn’t, there ought to be. Florida is the last place I would expect to get a bad mojito.

            2. Good rum, muddled fresh mint, cane sugar, delicious.

              1. Forgot the limes, natch.

            3. Mojitos are great when you order them as Caipirinhas instead. Despite the wiki definition, IME, they will usually garnish them with mint. A mojito OTOH, is like a shitty mint julip (if that isn’t redundant) made with rum instead of bourbon.

              Unfortunately, I too like deep dish, Lou Malnati’s especially. Mangia in Austin isn’t bad either. I also like thin pizza and would love to try Grimaldi’s someday. I make do with Nick’s pizza until then. Romano’s in Houston isn’t bad either. Really, all God’s pizza children are welcome in my house.

              Can’t we all just get along?

            4. Best mojitos ever were at (astonishingly) a place called Plonk in Bozeman, Montana. Chris the Bartender eschews overly sweet drinks, so it’s quite refreshing and palatable. Cools you off during those hot 50? Montana summer days.

          2. Mint Julep is about the nastiest shit ever concocted.

            Your love of the deep dish “pizza” has corrupted your taste buds.

            1. Like the mojito, there’s a crappy version–which is the standard, unfortunately–and there’s the good version.

        2. They’re pretty good sans simple syrup.

        3. Definitely not anyplace where “bartenders don’t like to make blended drinks because it takes too long”.

          1. The goal is to find a place where bartenders don’t make blended drinks because they have self-respect.

            1. Zing. Pure GNS for you, I suppose.

              1. I’m not sure what that means, so I’m going to assume it’s Gin ‘N’ Scotch.

                In which case: generally, yes.

                1. Grain neutral spirits. No self-respecting person would gay up their alcohol with juniper or peat, now would they?

                  1. Haha, it does sting a little to know that gin is essentially a flavored vodka.

                    Then I just have another to forget.

                    1. Isn’t every alcohol basically a version of vodka?

                  2. Och, yer insultin’ the peat, now, are ye? Yer sassenach ass will be blacker than molasses before we turn yer over to the bloody English, who will ‘ave their own bone te pick with ye over the juniper berries.

              2. Blended, as in made in a blender, not in the sense of anything but pure alcohol.

        4. Is there even such a thing as a “decent Mojito?”

          You betcha. Good rum, actual lime squeezins, fresh mint, real simple syrup. Yummay.

          1. Just don’t overdo the syrup. Great summer drink.

      2. Yeah, I suppose pre-fab drinks in capsule form would probably (sadly) raise the bar overall.

        Any bar that decided to be that lazy definitely won’t get me to turn past the bottled beer menu.

      3. Clearly you dont have enough quality cuban restaurants near you.

        1. In Louisville we have, creatively, Mojito’s. Not specifically Cuban, but excellent Mojitos.

          (WARNING: website plays extremely loud Cuban music upon loading…)

          1. Really? That surprises me in the land of mint juleps.

            1. No locals will touch the damn things other than 1 week a year.

              Mint Juleps blow hard.

              1. I should note that I’m not much for mixed drinks in general. Prefer less nonsense with my drink, you know.

                1. I prefer beer. Or bourbon. But mojitos are my one big exception.

                  Well, really, anything rum based. If Im at the beach, I generally give up beer and bourbon for rum anything.

                  1. Bourbon good. Rum is definitely a beachy drink.

                    1. I dont care for mixin bourbon though. so mint juleps and manhattans and etc are out.

                      Ice is acceptable. But that is it. Im not even a fan of “branch” with my bourbon.

                    2. Have you tried Bullit?
                      It is currently my bourbon of choice.

                    3. Bulleit is one of my least favorites. At a big bourbon tasting (private) a few years ago, it was universally panned. But I keep hearing good things so I wonder if others lack taste or if they have changed something.

                    4. Really? What would you recommend under $30/bottle?

                      Walker Percy’s Essay on Bourbon: always relevant.

                    5. Evan Williams Single Barrel.

                      Best value/$, IMO.

                      I can find lots of decent stuff under $30. Heck, I will buy Makers before I buy Bulleit.

                    6. I like Bulleit a lot. It is a very rye heavy bourbon, so maybe that is not your thing. They also make a very decent 95% rye which I think is a recent addition.

                    7. The Ryder Cup served a bourbon and lemonade drink, and I haughtily complained about the ridiculousness all the way through four of them.

                    8. Bourbon and lemonade? Basically a spit-patch whiskey sour.

                    9. Make a real whiskey sour (simple syrup, lemon squeezins, and RYE whiskey), and you’ve got a pretty good drink, if you don’t mind some sweetness with your boozeness.

                    10. If you dig rye, try and rustle up a bottle of Rittenhouse bottled in bond rye. Delicious.

                    11. Well, yeah, if you don’t want the free Country Time sun visor…

                    12. Manhattans are best made with rye anyway.

                    13. Bacon makes anything better.
                      Even bourbon.


                      I’ve actually tried this and it was pretty darn good.

                    14. Bacon bourbon is the bomb. I made some with a bottle of Evan Williams.

              2. Seriously. Never managed to finish a mint julep. Yuck.

                1. Need to drink 2-3 boubons neat first. Then the taste doesnt matter so much and juleps become acceptable.

                  1. After a few bourbons, many things become possible, both the horrible and the delightful.

                    Been on a Noah’s Mill kick lately, in the way of bourbon, but mostly what I’ve been drinking is Laird’s 7 1/2 year applejack.

                    1. Fuck all that bourbon shit.

                      You want some real Kentucky liquor? Drink shine.

                      Apple Pie is excellent (as suggested in Justified), but I like Peach better. Shit is the real deal.

                    2. Cannot abide peach anything, so I got Apple Pie this year.

                    3. Amateurs. Damson plum moonshine. Accept no substitutes.

                      Coincidentally, my grandfather was a shiner from Wise County. One of these days I’m going to build a still in honor of the mean bastard.

          2. We have Havana Rumba 1 and 2, which are specifically Cuban, and were started by the same chef who started Mojito’s.

            And they both make excellent Mojitos also.

        2. Well, no, I live in Tampa. I can get good ones here, just not as much as you’d think. It’s not that hard to make, and they are fairly popular, even in their [shudder] pre-bottled form.

          Of course, I hardly drink at all anymore, but I like to have my options open.

          1. I know where you live (well, Florida anyway) so I was mocking with the cuban comment.

            It really shouldnt be hard for you to find an excellent one.

            1. I could only find one place with a decent one in Ybor City back in my more social days. I mean, one? In Ybor?

              1. I was gonna say, I didn’t think Cubans traveled all the way to the Redneck Riviera to open restaurants.

              2. The Columbia over on E. 7th makes great sangria.

                1. I have a recipe for a better sangria than that from the now defunct Tio Pepe’s. I posted it a while back after keeping it secret for years.

                  My wife loves, loves, loves this sangria.

                  1. That looks absolutely delicious, I think I’ll try that this weekend. Thank you for sharing.

                  2. This explains the 4 kids.

                    1. One for each sangria glass.

      4. “I don’t think its a gay drink”


  6. Dear Lucy,

    I’ve got a neighbor that won’t stop hitting on me. She and I have gotten drunk together a few times and ended up fooling around, and now she won’t leave me alone. In the past month, I’ve made a point of bringing up a few women I go out with pretty regularly in casual conversations, but she doesn’t seem to get the hint.

    She and her ex just got their divorce finalized a few months ago, so I can understand her vulnerability and insecurity. Also, I don’t want to be a dick about things, and our kids get along great.

    What should I do?

    1. Oops. I meant to say my friend has a neighbor. Can you help him out?

    2. Since when is a stalker with benefits a problem?

      1. Never saw that scene with the rabbit in the kitchen pot, did you, John?

        1. One boiled bunny is a small price to pay for crazy sex. Crazy sex is the best sex.

          1. Scars last a lifetime, man. The crazy sex don’t.

            There’s a difference between slightly disturbed with daddy issues and full-bore psychopath. You may not figure where she is on the spectrum until way too late. Then, sell the house won’t work. You’ll have to burn it down with her in it.

          2. Never stick it in crazy.

            1. By male standards, ALL women are crazy, it’s just a matter of degree.

            2. Three exclusionary rules in dating: 1) no psychos; 2) no cheaters; 3) no picky eaters.

              Psychos–> lorena bobbit.
              cheaters–> vengeful husband/boyfriend

              Picky about what youeat–> picky about what goes in your body.

      2. The artificial lines of demarcation that started with the agricultural [city-STATE] have restricted the freedom of movement, and you can be accused of “stalking” merely for being too close to some fake liberty lover’s border.
        Officer, am I free to gambol?


          1. I don’t think that was rather. i think that was a spoofer.

            1. Does it matter? Not to Cooter.


    3. Sell the house.

      1. Sell it? This is 2011, sarcasmic. I can just abandon it, right?

        1. Your house was constructed on land that you stole and decided to restrict the free movements of people on it, a common feature of the agricultural city-STATE.
          Officer, am I free to gambol?

        2. Leave the keys on the kitchen counter and never look back.

        3. Yes. I suppose your friend can just abandon it. I guess it all depends on if your friend can get more for the house than what he owes.

    4. Set a date with her for Tuesday night, then go to a gay bar and bring some dudes home and tell her you forgot.

      1. Well that might work in your world, Tulpa, but I’ve still got a reputation to look after. Or, I mean my friend has a reputation to look after.

        Oh, and this lady is the same age as me. I mean, how sick can you get?

      2. So now we know what Tulpa is doing tonight.

    1. Beads aren’t cheap! …Are beads cheap?

      1. For men, they are expensive. For women. . .well, as the Urkobold says, “Monstra mihi tuum mammis.” Which I think means “Girls get free beads” in Latin.

        1. Those Kanuckistanis are required to get AR references. You, as a fellow American, can be forgiven, I suppose.

          1. (and, of course, by AR I mean AD)

        2. Monstra mammae tuae mihi

          1. Them are fightin’ words.

    2. AHHHHHHHH!!! THE BEES!!!!!

  7. If you add beads to tequila, and it’s a margarita or daiquiri.

    Not to pile on or anything, but that doesn’t even resemble a complete sentence.

    1. It doesn’t resemble a daiquiri either.

    2. Clearly Riggs skipped the beads and went right to the bottle of Don Julio Montezuma.

      1. Ha! No, that’s a quote from the CEO. My inner grammar nazi was implying that unfinished sentences –> failed company. But that seemed kind of mean.

        1. My statement still stands.

  8. I’m reminded of that Babylon 5 episode that jokingly implied Zima would still be around in the 23rd century:…..65-150.jpg

    1. It will make a comeback. As long as hipsters exist, retro stuff will survive.

      1. Lest we forget the Juggalo resurrection of Faygo Red Pop.

        1. Juggalos are white trash hipsters?

          1. My god, that explains so much.

          2. Perhaps hipsters are really some sort of cultural poltergeist, wandering around, reanimating the corpses of dead and/or dying cultural movements. This week, they’re juggalos, next week, Kraftwerk fans… who knows where they’ll strike next?

            1. jasno,

              Hipsters are the natural reservoir of cultural memes we thought had been wiped out.

              1. So, they’re like the tip of the condom I refuse to use?

          3. Your insight serves you well. You have taken your first step into a larger world.

  9. The agricultural city-state was the beginning of the end for liberty. Who wants the “freedom” to have their movement restricted by artificial lines of demarcation?
    Officer, am I free to gambol?


    2. Worst “Dear Lucy” question ever.

    3. By asking the Officer, you are affirming his authority, implicitly accepting (and thus reinforcing) the legitimacy of the Polis.

      1. Well played, RC.

      2. Officer, am I free to gamble?
        Why yes, yes you are, son.
        No, I meant “gambol”.
        Oh…what the fuck does that mean?
        I’m not sure, Officer.
        *Officer beats White Indian to death”

        1. Internet cheers.

          1. Passing cats pause to kick sand to cover the corpse…

  10. Lotta hating on the dippin dots. I used to eat them shits all summer at Kentucky Kingdom. But it’s been closed since one of the rides severed the feet off of a young girl( no kidding). My guess is Ky Kingdom was a huge, huge part of their revenue, as everyone there usually bought some at some point they were at the park.

  11. “My name is… gosh, this is tough, [cough]. Uhh, my name is White Indian, and I’m addicted to gamboling.”

  12. My wife am dissapoint. She loves the Dippin’ Dots. And no, I’m not making some double entendre sexual reference. I mean the freeze-dried shitty ice cream that you pay way too much for at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. She always has to buy a cup. I think it’s crap, myself.

  13. What does this story have to do with Solyndra? They are just both companies that went under?

  14. I like Dippin’ Dots. I think they have always been too expensive, however. Now that the patent is unenforceable (probably the reason for their revenue implosion and bankruptcy), we will see similar or identical products for less, assuming I’m not the only one who likes Dippin’ Dots.

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