By Melody Birkett
A Gilbert ice cream shop has the scoop on creating the treat within 90 seconds, thanks to a process involving liquid nitrogen.
“The longest period is deciding which flavor and mix-ins you want,” said Felicia Vandermolen, CEO and founder of Nitro Live Icecreamery, near Warner and Cooper roads. “The freezing only takes about 30 to 35 seconds, but the ordering from start to finish takes a minute and a half.”
Everything is made to order. At -321 degrees, liquid nitrogen freezes the ice cream as customers wait.
“It’s not pre-made,” Vandermolen explained. “We have one of the smallest carbon footprints for an ice cream shop.”
Making liquid nitrogen ice cream begins with one of seven cream bases – original, nonfat gelato, sugar free, lactose free, custard, vegan (made from coconut milk) and yogurt. Guests can mix and match any of the 30 flavors and the 30 mix-ins, and create their own concoctions. Vandermolen added they could pick from Nitro Live’s creations as well.
Nitro Live’s menu also includes milkshakes, floats, ice cream smoothies, all-natural frazzles slushies, sundaes and a waffle bowl. Those with food allergies can visit the shop’s website to see the products’ ingredients. Vandermolen said she’s confident her stores can accommodate about 98 percent of dietary restrictions.
“There’s a little spoon next to each one,” Vandermolen said about the online menu. “If you click on that spoon, it’ll tell you every ingredient for that flavor, mix-in or base.”
Vandermolen reaches into the community as well. She’s passionate about nonprofits, and sits on the Dignity Health Foundation East Valley Board of Directors. Furthermore, Nitro Live gives $1 from sales of six flavors to designated charities: Against All Odds, chocolate with rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream topping; Dignity Health Foundation East Valley, cookie batter, with cookie dough mixed in and a graham cracker topping; HD South, prickly pear with mixed berries; Kurt Warner First Things First Foundation, sea salt caramel flavor with Heath bar mixed in and caramel sauce; Midwest Food Bank, cupcake flavor with brownie bites mixed in and caramel topping; and Treasure House, peanut butter with Oreos.
The charity flavors will also be on the menus at the stores opening this year in Mesa (Gilbert and Baseline roads), southeast Gilbert (Higley and Chandler Heights roads) and San Tan Valley (Ironwood and Ocotillo roads).
Vandermolen is also working with students in Gilbert.
“We have a STEM curriculum,” she explained. “Science teachers from Gilbert Public Schools came together to help us create the curriculum. We created different experiments that showcase state standards.”
Encouraged by the schools, students visit the ice cream shop, perform three science experiments and then get free ice cream.
On the business side, Nitro Live caters.
“You don’t think of having ice cream on a golf course when it’s 122 degrees,” Vandermolen said.
“We can cater weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs. We do festivals around here. We do fundraisers for schools. We’ve been at football games and sold ice cream where we donate proceeds back to the school. We’ve done a lot for the town of Gilbert. We donate ice cream to every student of the month they honor at their Town Council meeting. So, that’s about 50 students a month. Each gets a free ice cream when they visit.”
Vandermolen partners with Gilbert police and fire personnel, who give ice cream coupons to community members who perform good deeds.