Trendy self-serve frozen yogurt shops offer a selection of 10 to 16 flavors and up to 60 toppings. To keep taste buds excited, the shops change out the flavors often. But what if the flavor you crave isn't one of the current choices?
That can't happen at Sub Zero Ice Cream.
"You can always get what you want," said Scott Rippe, owner of the Sub Zero franchise in Centerville.
That's because the customer invents the flavor on the spot.
The concept was introduced by Naomi and Jerry Hancock of American Fork, who owned a restaurant with extra space. They decided to add ice cream to their offerings, but wanted to work with the trend of allowing patrons to customize their food.
But, how do you do that when it comes to ice cream? It was possible to give customers complete control only if they made the ice cream from scratch for each order. Who was going to wait in a restaurant long enough for ice cream to freeze?
Then Jerry Hancock, who has a degree in chemistry, had a flash of genius.
"He said, 'We'll use liquid nitrogen,' " Naomi remembers.
There are now several Sub Zero shops around the state, with a deal in the works to open one in Ogden around the beginning of the new year.
Unlike weigh-and-pay shops, customers don't serve themselves. Employees make the ice cream in set order sizes, using basic formulas to ensure consistency.
Customers choose the dessert base: premium cream, low-fat cream, custard, yogurt, or dairy substitutes made of soy or rice. They choose which of 36 flavorings to add, such as cake batter, eggnog, lime, bubble gum, sweet chocolate or Dutch honey.
Prices range from $3.39 for kid-size to $5.19 for a 10-ounce portion. Customers get one mix-in, such as candy bar pieces or fruit, for free; others can be added for 50 cents each.
It's all combined in a bowl, then instantly frozen with a spray of liquid nitrogen.
"People's main question is, 'Is this safe to eat?' " Naomi Hancock said.
The answer is yes.
"And one of the advantages of freezing with liquid nitrogen is that the faster you freeze ice cream, the smoother and creamier it is," she said.
"It's really good," said Jena Temple of Kaysville, after tasting Sub Zero ice cream for the first time. "It's very, very creamy."
Customer Cory Larsen, of Salt Lake City, agreed, adding that he could taste the flavors better than with traditional ice cream.
When the liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the mixture, it creates a cool cloud.
"It comes out at minus 321 degrees," said Rippe.
Most customers are as excited about watching the ice cream being made as eating it. There's even a step in front of the counter so kids can get a better view.
Rippe says the most popular flavor combination in his store is cake batter with brownie bits or cookie dough, but Mountain Dew with Gummi Bears is also big.
Crave something that's not on the menu?
"If you bring it in, we'll do it," said Rippe. "One guy comes in with a Red Bull Energy Shot."