Robyn Sue told the Fast Company crew that “the gist of Smitten is going back in time and using a new technology to do that better than ever before.” Time travel? Here we come.
COLD FUSION: WELCOME TO THE LIQUID NITROGEN-BLASTING OLD-TIMEY ICE CREAM SHOP OF THE FUTURE
FAST COMPANY, JUNE 2013
by Lorraine Sanders
“Smitten, the San Francisco-born purveyor of ice cream made before your eyes, is expanding with two new locations and algorithm-driven, smart mixing machines. But forget all that high-tech, says founder Robyn Sue Fisher, her company is old-school at heart…
“It’s all about ice crystal formation. So when you freeze ice cream, the texture has a lot to do with the size of the crystals, and the bigger the crystals the more sort of icy or gritty and freezer-burned it is,” explains Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher, a self-described ice cream nerd who’d loved the stuff since childhood and set out on a mission to create the perfect scoop while pursuing an MBA at Stanford.
It hasn’t always been easy. Fisher’s quest for frozen nirvana includes a stretch of time in 2009 when she could often be found wheeling her invention around San Francisco in a Radio Flyer wagon to let people taste the flavors that she developed with pastry chef Robyn Lenzi (yes, same first name). But by 2011, they’d opened their first shop. Another followed in 2013. And a 1,700-square-foot flagship is set to open in Oakland on April 1, with a fourth location slated to welcome customers later this spring.
Back in the day, in order to freeze ingredients into the smallest ice crystals possible, Fisher and a fellow Stanford engineer began experimenting in her Palo Alto backyard with a tank of liquid nitrogen, duct tape, and mixer parts bought off Craigslist. Fisher soon realized she would need to create an entirely new machine to get the texture she was after. And so, over the next several years, she worked with a retired NASA engineer and, later, yet more engineers to design, build, prototype, test, improve, and–finally–manufacture the first Brrr machines (the name and technology is trademarked with the three-R spelling). Outfitted with constantly moving beaters that keep the ice cream in constant motion, the machines take fresh, unfrozen ingredients and douse them with liquid nitrogen at -321 degrees (F), the better to create a cold, smooth texture fast.”
Read Lorraine Sanders’ full article for Fast Company here.