Enjoying a milk shake without a blender

by Allison Sebolt
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When MolliCoolz, Stockton, Calif., introduced its Shakers product back in September, the thought was convenience-minded consumers would appreciate being able to enjoy a milk shake without having to use a blender. The idea has proven successful so far, and more products are in the works.

"This actually contains real ice cream and actually is a thick shake that one could compare to anything one could find inside the Q.S.R.s or your favorite relaxed causal diner that makes a nice milk shake," said Bill Jachthuber, chief marketing officer for MolliCoolz.

The Shakers come in single serving containers filled with free flowing ice cream beads. Consumers simply add milk, replace the cover and shake the product for what the company says is a thick and creamy milk shake that is ready in 30 seconds.

"There is a good demand for a blended creamy product, so for our technology to make Shakers opens up a lot of doors to be able to do convenience without any mess of a blender and go with a lot of different flavors," Mr. Jachthuber said.

Shakers come in various flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and cookies n’ cream. Molli-Coolz products are sold in stadiums and arenas as well as grocery stores.

Mr. Jachthuber said the product has a broad appeal — ages 12 to 35 — and emphasized the product is designed to be fun.

"Even with all the things going on with the economy, we saw some very nice consumer appeal and getting the initial trial out there," Mr. Jachthuber said. "Consumers are always looking for new, fun ways to eat products they love."

MolliCoolz uses cryogenics, which involves freezing ice cream at a temperature significantly below the actual freezing point, allowing the beads to be "free flowing" at normal ice cream temperatures. MolliCoolz worked with Cargill, Minneapolis, to create ice cream beads that don’t melt or fuse together during standardized distribution and storage.

One of the most well-known consumer products that uses cryogenics is Dippin’ Dots, Paducah, Ky., which has been successful with consumers at various stadiums and stands since it was first introduced in the late 1980s.

"Dippin’ Dots has been out in the marketplace … and there has been a lot of demand for that," Mr. Jachthuber said. "It represents for a lot of folks a fun, new different way to eat ice cream. We thought building on making (MolliCoolz) available in grocery stores and other venues … could definitely expand the marketplace."

Because it must maintain a temperature of negative 20° Fahrenheit, Dippin’ Dots may not be sold in the grocery freezer, Mr. Jachthuber said. But MolliCoolz offers stabilization, and the goal for the product is to be as good when it leaves the plant as it is when it is taken home and eaten.

"It’s the next generation of how people would like to eat creamy ice cream at home or on the go," Mr. Jachthuber said.

MolliCoolz started introducing ice cream products in 2005 when it acquired an exclusive global license to manufacture, use and sell frozen beads of ice cream that are stable at normal ice cream temperatures. As in the case with Dippin’ Dots, cryogenic ice cream was not previously sold in stores because of sub-zero storage requirements. The beads would start to stick together in a home freezer.

Other MolliCoolz products include the regular MolliCoolz line as well as Ionz and Rocks. The Ionz ice cream products come in smaller portions and are designed for younger consumers ages 9 to 16. The Rocks are available to schools and through street vendors and are packaged in a portable pyramid-shaped container that allows the consumer to simply pour the beads into their mouth. For a better-for-you option, the Ionz and Rocks lines even include a strawberry and vanilla yogurt flavor, which is made with 100% fruit juice and yogurt. Other Rocks flavors include cherry blue raz and lemon; lemon lime; and vanilla, chocolate and crunch. Other Ionz flavors include smores and cotton candy.

Mr. Jachthuber said MolliCoolz is trying to differentiate itself in the marketplace from both a flavor and packaging perspective with the goal being to make the products fun to eat.

There are plans to introduce a new weight management version of the Shakers product called Figure Friendly. The beads in the new product contain 150 calories per serving and translate to two Weight Watchers points. It will be more widely available in March, Mr. Jachthuber said.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Dairy Business News, February 2009, starting on Page 14. Click here to search that archive.

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