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The History of Dippin’ Dots

Dippin’ Dots were invented in the late 1980s by microbiologist Curt Jones, who was working in cryogenics to flash-freeze animal food. Novelty frozen foods were already popular with the public. Jones realized that he could create something unique with cryogenic encapsulation; he dripped ice cream mix into liquid nitrogen, freezing it instantly into tiny, dense, creamy balls. His friends helped him come up with the name for his creation. Then Jones and his wife Kay opened the first Dippin’ Dots storefront in Lexington, Kentucky. However, the shop wasn’t successful. Then in 1989, a family member suggested bringing Dippin’ Dots to Opryland USA (a theme park in suburban Nashville that has since closed) on vending bikes, where it was much more successful. Then in 1991, the Joneses came up with the highly successful slogan, “ice cream of the future,” and by 1992, Dippin’ Dots were being sold in the Kennedy Space Center. From there, the unique ice cream really took off and franchises started popping up at amusement parks, stadiums, water parks, shopping centers, and similar venues. Dippin’ Dots peaked in the mid-2000s but later suffered bankruptcy, ownership changes, and pandemic closures. Still, some locations have reopened, and Dippin’ Dots are also sold online and in many convenience stores across America. Their legacy also lives on as the grandfather of most other cryogenic ice creams, including competitor Mini Melts.

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