11 Chock-Full Facts About Cold Stone Creamery

Whether you like it, love it, or gotta have it, Cold Stone Creamery and their candy-filled, extra rich ice cream creations have been the pinnacle of summertime decadence since the first store opened in Tempe, Ariz. in 1988.

1. THEY SELL “SUPERPREMIUM ICE CREAM.”

That flattering adjective isn’t just some self-awarded praise. The label is an industry designation that refers to ice cream with 12-14 percent butterfat and relatively low “overrun”—the amount of extra air that’s pumped into it. This is what gives Cold Stone’s flavors their super creamy feel, an intentional choice by founders Donald and Susan Sutherland, who wanted something between flavorful hard-packed and smooth soft-serve.

2. ALL OF THEIR ICE CREAM IS MADE ON SITE.

All of their innovative flavors are made daily on premise, and the granite slab that the various candies, nuts, and fruits are mixed in on is chilled to 16 degrees.

3. COLD STONE DIDN’T INVENT THE MIX-IN.

But then again, neither did competitors Maggie Moo's or Marble Slab. That honor goes to Steve Herrell, who opened his Boston ice cream parlor Steve's Ice Cream in 1973—pioneering superpremium ice creams and the idea of “smooshing-in.” Cold Stone is happy to give Herrell credit for the innovative idea—although they changed the name of the concept to "mix-ins" for distinction—but they think they can do it better.

"Steve was the father of mix-ins," Meredith Bryan, co-owner of the Cold Stone in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and the chain's area developer, told Boston.com in 2004. "We love Steve. We worship him. But this is taking it to a whole new level. People have definitely never seen this before, even people who have been to Steve's before."

4. THE COMPANY GREW SUPER QUICKLY.

It landed at No. 94 on Entrepreneur magazine’s "101 Fastest-Growing Franchises in America” in 2000 with 100 stores in over 16 states. By 2005, Cold Stone had jumped to 12th place on the list.

5. THEY ONCE SERVED CRICKETS.

In an attempt to capitalize on the nation’s Survivor obsession, the ice cream chain launched a cricket campaign in 2001. Chocolate-covered crickets were available for purchase at all then-142 locations of Cold Stone throughout the country. Patrons who ate the insects were given free ice cream on their next visit or the chance to be entered into a raffle for a trip to the Australian site where the reality show was filmed.

"They look like real crickets, so it's tough to get past that, but once you pop them in your mouth, they taste kind of like chocolate-covered potato chips," Brian Curin, Cold Stone's director of marketing at the time, said.

6. YOU CAN GET JELLY BELLY BEANS FLAVORED LIKE COLD STONE FAVORITES.

The two sweet brands partnered in 2008 and still today you can purchase jelly beans flavored like Birthday Cake Remix, Apple Pie a la Cold Stone, Chocolate Devotion, and a few others.

7. COLD STONE MADE NON-MELTING ICE CREAM ONCE.

In 2009, Cold Stone partnered with JELL-O to produce a limited-edition line of pudding-flavored ice creams: Chocolate, Butterscotch, Vanilla, and Banana. The special scoops had a strange, slightly unintentional feature: they never really melted. The flavors were made with actual JELL-O mix and although served chilled as an ice cream, if they were allowed to sit out at room temperature they melted not into a liquid but a pudding.

8. THE MILKSHAKES ARE REALLY, REALLY DECADENT.

How decadent? Try, award-winning—sort of. For two years in a row (2010 and 2011), Cold Stone’s PB&C milkshake—made with chocolate ice cream, milk, and peanut butter—earned the top spot on Men's Health "20 Worst Drinks in America" list. The 24-oz shake clocks in at 2,010 calories, 131 grams of fat (68 grams saturated), and 153 grams of sugar. But that’s not stopping devotees. "I don't care. I'd drink it without difficulty,” the Telegraph quoted one fan of the shake as saying. “I'd probably have it once a week."

9. THERE’S A COLD STONE VIDEO GAME.

It’s called Cold Stone Creamery: Scoop It Up and it’s available for purchase for the Wii. The game involves running an ice cream shop, of course, and along the way you can unlock new flavors, cones and mix-ins.

10. COLD STONE’S FORMER CEO IS NOW THE GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA.

In 2014, Doug Ducey was elected governor of Arizona. Although he had served as the state's treasurer since 2011, the Republican didn’t highlight that aspect of his career during his campaign. Instead, he focused on his time as CEO at Cold Stone Creamery from 1995 until the company was sold to Kahala in 2007. His campaign ads dubbed him "the conservative ice-cream guy,” and at one forum he implored voters to "look at me and evaluate me from your personal experience at Cold Stone Creamery.”

Around the time he got elected, the state capitol started stocking Cold Stone Creamery items in their freezer—but a spokeswoman claimed the connection was purely coincidental.

11. SERVERS COMPETE TO BE THE MOST ENTERTAINING.

If you’ve been to a Cold Stone location you know your candy-filled ice cream treat often comes with a side of singing—servers are instructed to make up silly songs whenever they receive tips. But the entertainment factor doesn’t stop there. Along with learning the basics of serving up scoops, new employees are coached on different techniques for personalizing the service—from singing and dancing to juggling. The company highlights these unique talents at an annual competition for the most entertaining team of ice-cream servers. We think the Dubai crew seen above has a lock on 2015.

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iStock
The Popcorn Company That's Creating Jobs for Adults With Autism
iStock
iStock

A New Jersey-based gourmet popcorn company is dedicating its profits to creating new employment “popportunities” for adults on the autism spectrum, A Plus reports.

Popcorn for the People, founded by Rutgers University professor Dr. Barbie Zimmerman-Bier and her husband, radiologist Dr. Steven Bier, is a nonprofit subsidiary of the couple's charitable organization Let’s Work For Good, which focuses on "creating meaningful and lasting employment for adults with autism and developmental disabilities." Recognizing the lack of skilled employment options for adults with developmental disabilities, the Biers decided to create jobs themselves through this popcorn venture, with all of the profits going to their charitable organization. According to the site, every tin of popcorn purchased "provides at least an hour of meaningful employment" to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, who perform jobs like making popcorn, labeling products, and marketing.

The couple developed the idea for the business and the nonprofit in 2015 when their son, Sam, grew tired of his job at a grocery store. Sam, 27, is on the autism spectrum, and after six years of working as a “cart guy,” he decided he was ready to try something new. Employment opportunities were scarce, though. Jobs that provided enough resources for someone on the spectrum tended to consist of menial work, and more skilled positions involved a tough interview process.

“Some companies mean well, but they are limited in what they can offer,” Steven Bier told TAP Into East Brunswick in 2015.

Unemployment rates are especially high among adults with autism. Last year, Drexel University reported that only 14 percent of autistic adults who use state-funded disability services are employed in paid work positions. And while high-functioning autistic adults are often perfectly capable of working in technical careers, the actual process of getting hired can be challenging. People with autism tend to struggle with understanding nuance and social conventions, which makes the interviewing process particularly difficult.

Enter the Biers' popcorn business. What began in 2015 as the Pop-In Cafe (which still sells popcorn and deli items at its New Jersey location) now distributes flavored popcorn all over the world. In three years, the organization has gone from a staff of four, with one employee on the autism spectrum, to a staff of 50, nearly half of whom are on the spectrum. In July, the organization plans to expand to a larger production facility in order to keep up with demand.

The company provides an environment for employees to learn both hard skills, like food preparation and money management, and what the company describes as “watercooler life skills.”

"There just aren't many programs that teach these sorts of things in a real-world environment, with all that entails," Bier told My Central Jersey. "These are skills that the kids can use here, and elsewhere."

According to A Plus, you can now buy Popcorn for the People in person at locations like the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and the Lyric Theatre in Times Square. The organization sells 12 flavors of popcorn (including cookies and cream, Buffalo wing, and French toast), all created by Agnes Cushing-Ruby, a chef who donates 40 hours a week to the company.

“I never thought that the little pop-up shop would grow into this,” Sam told A Plus. “It makes me so happy to see we have helped so many people.”

[h/t A Plus]

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IHOb Restaurants
10 Strange Publicity Stunts by Major Food Brands
IHOb Restaurants
IHOb Restaurants

Celebrities have always loved doing crazy things for press—but these days, even corporations will go to extreme lengths to get the word out about their products. Case in point: IHOP's recent attempt to create a little mystery, and sell some burgers, as IHOb. Below you’ll find 10 of the weirdest stunts done to promote mass-produced food items.

1. COLONEL SANDERS RAPPELS DOWN A HIGH-RISE

It’s hard to imagine KFC’s elderly Colonel Sanders doing much outside of eating and talking about his “finger lickin’ good” fried chicken. But in 2011, a man dressed as the Colonel strapped on a harness and rappelled down Chicago’s River Bend building. The Colonel didn't stop at rappelling down the 40-story building; he also handed out $5 everyday meals to window washers. What was KFC’s concept behind this dangerous promotion? They wanted to show the world they were taking lunch to “new heights.”

2. THE WORLD'S LARGEST POPSICLE

Sometimes being the biggest doesn’t mean you’re the best. In 2005, Snapple wanted to make the world’s largest Popsicle to promote their new line of frozen treats. Their plan was to display a 25-foot-tall, 17.5-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice in New York City’s Union Square. However, their plan ended in a sticky disaster. The day Snapple tried to present the Popsicle, New York was experiencing warmer than expected temperatures. The pop melted so quickly that a river of sticky sludge took over several streets. In a city already congested by traffic and tourists, this made Snapple enemy No. 1 that day to the people of New York City.

3. COFFEE CUPS ON CAR ROOFS = FREE COUPONS

A cup of Starbucks coffee
Wikimedia Commons

Starbucks believes in rewarding those who embrace the holiday spirit. In 2005, the Seattle-based coffee giant developed a campaign by which brand ambassadors drove around with replicas of Vente Starbucks cups affixed to their car roofs. If anyone stopped the ambassador to warn them about the coffee cup on their roof, that person received a $5 gift card to Starbucks. Starbucks wanted the world to know being a good samaritan really can pay!

4. MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

Imagine walking the beach and finding a sealed bottle of Guinness. But instead of finding beer inside, you find a note from King Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. In 1959, that happened to people along North America’s Atlantic coast. Guinness wanted to build brand awareness in the area, so they dropped 150,000 sealed Guinness bottles into the ocean. The bottle contained Neptune’s scroll announcing the House of Guinness’s Bi-Centenary as well as a document instructing the reader on how to make a Guinness bottle into a table lamp. While no one got a free beer (boo!), they did walk away with an arts and crafts project.

5. EAU DE FLAME-BROILED

Who can resist the smell of flame-broiled burgers? The answer is most people—at least when it comes in the form of a body spray. Burger King’s 2008 campaign promoting the “scent of seduction” may be one of the weirdest ideas on this list. The fast-food company thought they could capture the world’s attention by creating and advertising a meat-scented cologne called FLAME by BK. Though select New York City stores actually sold the scent, all of this was a tongue-in-cheek campaign to make the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic laugh.

6. HERE COMES THE SUN

London commuters experienced an unexpectedly bright morning during January 2012. Tropicana worked with the art collective Greyworld to create a fake sun promoting their “Brighter Morning” campaign. The "sun," made up of more than 60,000 light bulbs, rose over Trafalgar Square at 6:51 a.m. on a particularly chilly morning. The sun set at 7:33 p.m. Tropicana continued to promote their sun day, fun day by having Londoners sit under the sun with branded sunglasses, deck chairs, and blankets. 

7. AIRPORT STEAK DELIVERY

Some of the craziest publicity stunts can’t be planned. We live in a world of 24/7 social media, and when the Twitterverse gave Morton’s Steakhouse an opportunity, they seized upon it. Before flying from Tampa to Newark, Peter Shankman, an entrepreneur and author, jokingly tweeted at Morton's Steakhouse that he wanted a porterhouse steak to be waiting for him when he landed. As Shankman was a frequent diner and social media influencer, Morton's Steakhouse saw the opportunity to start a conversation—and they went for it: When Shankman touched down in Newark, he was greeted by his car service driver and a Morton’s deliveryman. If only all travelers could experience that happiness in an airport.

8. BUYING THE LIBERTY BELL

April Fools Day gags can be great for brands … or an embarrassment. In 1996, Taco Bell took out an ad in The New York Times saying they bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. The ad also informed people of the bell’s new name: "Taco Liberty Bell." Back in the mid-1990s, people couldn’t go on Twitter or Facebook to find out the truth. Instead, they wrote the publication voicing their outrage. The hoax may have worked in getting press coverage (650 print publications and 400 broadcast media outlets publicized the joke), but what does that say about your brand when people actually believe you would rename a historic monument for your own gain?

9. CREATING THE LARGEST MAN-MADE FIRE


Wikimedia Commons

In 2011, the Costa-Mesa based chain El Pollo Loco sent out press releases saying they planned to create the world’s largest man-made fire. Why would they create a fire? El Pollo Loco needed to get the word out about their new flame-grilled chicken. Spectators attending the event were shocked to see that this stunt was actually a commercial shoot for the brand. The chain says they really did attempt to break the record. But many publications have stated the whole promotion was a fraud. Note to brands: When trying to pull off a publicity stunt and a commercial simultaneously, tell everyone your plan in advance.

10. KFC IN SPACE

KFC may just be the king of wild publicity stunts. In 2006, the company created an 87,500-square-foot logo at Area 51 in Rachel, Nevada. The company wanted to be the first brand visible from space. And it was no coincidence they picked a spot near “The World’s Only Extraterrestrial Highway.”

“If there are extraterrestrials in outer space, KFC wants to become their restaurant of choice,” said Gregg Dedrick, former president of KFC Corp. The world is not enough for KFC. They need the entire universe hooked on their Original Recipe.

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