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11 Cool Facts About Dippin’ Dots

Sweets-lovers have been dipping in to the ice cream of the future since 1988. It’s tasty (candy bar crunch? Yes please!), educational (this is what happens when you play with liquid nitrogen, kids!) and, er, well-rounded. Read on to learn more.

1. YOU HAVE SCIENCE TO THANK FOR THIS FUN DESSERT.

In 1987, Curt Jones was just a microbiologist researching how to quick-freeze yogurt bacteria to use in animal feed. Within a year, he had created his confection by flash freezing ice cream mix in liquid nitrogen. (At negative 320 degrees, the liquid gas is cold enough to instantly freeze anything that is added to it.) "I grew up on a farm and used to make homemade ice cream a lot," he has said. "Working on the yogurt bacteria, I found the little beads fun to play with. Then a month or two later, I was making ice cream with a neighbor and decided it would be better if we could freeze it faster, like we were doing with the yogurt."

2. THE COMPANY'S FIRST PLANT WAS A GARAGE.

Jones first began crafting his invention in 1988 inside his parents’ Grand Chain, Illinois garage. Two years later he moved production to a manufacturing facility in Paducah, Kentucky.

3. THEY'VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE VANILLA.

Among the brand’s 30 flavors: candy bar crunch, cotton candy and kettle corn! The most popular? Cookies ‘n Cream.

4. YOU CAN BUY IT AT STADIUMS, MALLS, AMUSEMENT PARKS—AND IN ASIA!

Dippin’ Dots is sold in 14 countries, including Honduras and Luxembourg. Japan was the company’s first international licensee in 1995.

5. NO, IT'S NOT THE ICE CREAM ASTRONAUTS EAT.

Space travelers’ ice cream is freeze-dried and will not melt. Dippin’ Dots is flash frozen and can still dissolve if not stored at the proper temperature (which, by the way, is negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit).

6. CAN'T CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR? THERE'S A QUIZ FOR THAT.

The Dippin' Dots personality test asks thought-provoking questions such as “What would you do if you saw your crush at the mall with someone else?” and “You get $50 for your birthday. What do you do with it?” Apparently, more than half of the quiz-taking population are Strawberry.

7. THE COMPANY HOLDS A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD.

On July 4, 2014 in Nashville, Tenn., Dippin’ Dots nabbed the trophy for most ice cream cups prepared by a team of five in three minutes (473!). Country singer Ashley Monroe even pitched in for the contest!

8. THE COMPANY (UNSUCCESSFULLY) SUED A COMPETITOR.

In 1996, Dippin’ Dots sued fellow cryogenic ice cream brand Mini Melts for infringement. Nine years of litigation later, the company lost its fight when it was ruled it hadn’t acquired its patent properly.

9. THEN, THEY ALMOST WENT BANKRUPT.

When Dippin’ Dots filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2011, Jones insisted, “We’re going to keep making Dippin’ Dots, so nobody needs to worry.” He was right. A year later Oklahoma businessman Scott Fischer purchased the company for $12.7 million.

10. THEY DO GOOD.

In 2007, the company held a celebrity grand slam paddle jam (i.e. a giant table tennis tournament) to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

11. AND THEY'VE GOT A SENSE OF HUMOR.

On April 1, 2015, the company posted a story on its site about their new “giant-sized Dippin’ Dot option—The Jumbo Dot!” Sadly, the oversize confection—touted as the perfect treat for graduation parties and weddings—was an April Fools' Day joke. Further proof of their sense of humor? This commercial.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Tengi

Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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