Ice Cream Freezer and Dipping Cabinet Buyers' Guide
Whether you want to open a concept that specializes in frozen goodies or just add new options to your dessert menu, an ice cream freezer is the best way to hold and show off the cold treat. The broad selection available includes equipment for by-the-scoop counter service, self-serve merchandising, and back of house holding. In addition to traditional ice cream and frozen yogurt, gelato is experiencing a growth in popularity in the United States after years of relative obscurity. Along with those sold-by-the-scoop treats, packaged frozen snacks are popular, especially in the summer months.
Ice Cream Dipping Cabinets
Ice cream freezers are designed to hold temperatures in the range of -10 to 8 degrees F - temperatures considered optimal for serving ice cream. Most dipping cabinets provide controls for adjusting temperature, so you can find the setting that gives you the best texture for your product. Keep in mind that installation in high-altitude locations will likely necessitate an adjustment from the factory settings.
If you're looking to sell ice cream by the scoop, in cones or in cups, the first step in choosing the right dipping cabinet comes down to knowing how many tubs you'll want to display and how many you'll want to have stored on hand to replenish your supplies; dipping cabinets provide room for each.
A cabinet will generally have more room to display ice cream tubs than it will to hold them. For example, dipping cabinets that hold 12 tubs generally have room near the bottom to store eight more. That extra supply can keep service flowing when another tub is emptied and save time by reducing trips to your storage freezer.
Available sizes range from compact freezers that accommodate fewer than five tubs up to 26-tub behemoths. Whichever you choose, check the dimensions to make sure you have the space to dedicate to the equipment. Some freezers may have minimum clearance requirements that prohibit them from being installed within close proximity to surrounding walls and equipment.
Glass Window Merchandisers
Glass-top lids are the type of ice cream merchandiser associated with the classic ice cream parlor. They're the ones with the tall glass window on the front that lets customers browse the available flavors, with a door in the rear to give employees access to scoop and serve the ice cream.
You must make a style decision when you pick your glass-window merchandiser. Standard models with a flat glass display generally have the lowest price tags, but many think curved glass has a sleeker aesthetic appeal. Curved glass models may also allow taller customers a better view of your products.
Flip-Lid Ice Cream Freezers
Flip-lid dipping cabinets conceal ice cream from view, so they can't be used to merchandise your products. Instead, they can be used in an ice cream shop as a backup freezer or back-of-house in restaurants. Flip-lid cabinets are an energy-saving alternative for applications when customers don't need to see the product you're serving because they are more thoroughly insulated compared to equipment with glass windows.
Gelato Display Cabinets
Gelato merchandisers are similar in design to ice cream cabinets, typically including at least two levels to hold the wide, flat pans that the product is sold in and served from. Gelato is served a little warmer than ice cream, so the typical temperature range for a gelato merchandiser is -5 to 20 degrees F. There's a little less aesthetic diversity in the selection of gelato cases. Gelato's European origins have made a curved glass design the standard form.
Novelty Case Ice Cream Freezers
Horizontal freezers with sliding glass lids, often called novelty cases, are used to hold and merchandise packaged snacks like popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, and other frozen novelties, rather than hold tubs of ice cream that are dipped out of. They're ubiquitous in convenience stores, but they can also be used to expand the offerings of ice cream parlors, delis, restaurants, and other concepts.
You'll find novelty cases with flat- and curved-glass designs, with the former typically offering a lower up-front cost and the latter providing greater aesthetic appeal and a better view of the freezer's contents. These cases contain baskets for holding and separating different products, so that number, along with the space you have available, should be the primary determiner of which size case you choose.
Schultz, E.J. Mamma Mia! Americans Finally Embrace Gelato. Advertising Age. May 07, 2014. Accessed August 2014.