Future Imperfect

6 11 2011

I have never been a big fan of better mousetraps. If the old spring-loaded one gets the job done, then let’s use it. Sure, you wind up breaking a finger now and then. And of course there’s that icky disposal job when the trap does its job. But why spend more on something that offers marginal benefits at best?

Which is why I have been making fun of Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream ever since it came out. Originally billed as “The Ice Cream of the Future,” the future has come. And it is not a good one. Turns out, the future was so dark they needed spotlights, because they have now declared bankruptcy.

If anything, Dippin’s Dots was just a novelty. Its locations belied that fact: theme parks, airports and shopping malls. This was not your grandmother’s ice cream, so it needed to be distributed in non-traditional places. But the very requirements of the product (flash-frozen pellets of ice cream hardened in place with liquid nitrogen) required much colder freezers than industry average. It’s the process, stupid. It killed them.

Never mind that once was all it took to convince most customers that this was a one-trick pony. Expensive priced treats are seldom if ever worth the money the first time, much less subsequent mistakes. At $6 for a small bowl in most places, this was no ice cream cone for the kiddies. Heck, even Starbucks hasn’t hit that price point yet.

Dippin’ Dots failed to answer the real question, though: What makes theirs better than everyone else’s? Was it tastier? Did it go down easier? Better texture?

Or, as I allege, just a stupid novelty?

Ding ding ding.

Truthfully, I am surprised it took 23 years for Dippin ‘ Dots to realize we just weren’t all that excited. Yes, they had $28 million in sales thus far in 2011, but that is small potatoes when spread across 312 million people. With franchise costs that typically run from almost $100,000 up to $235,000, you would have to sell a lot of ice cream pellets to hope to recoup expenses.

No thanks, Dippin’ Dots. I tried it once when the kids begged me for a bowl at Florida’s Cypress Gardens. I’ll stick to regular ice cream. Just like I’ll stick to tried and true mousetraps.

It’s time to take out the trash.

Dr “Present Tense” Gerlich

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