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.
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.
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.