An ice cream craving can hit at any moment. Local St. Michael ice cream shop, What’s The Scoop? is ready to meet that need with its newly installed 24/7 ice cream vending machine, opened to the public Dec. 8.
The machine will dispense pints of ice cream for around $6. The ice cream comes in 12 different flavors from chocolate peanut butter ecstasy, to bubblegum, to superman ice cream.
How does machine work, though? First, the customer types in the flavor they want and then the freezer inside stocked with pints of ice cream will open to allow the suction claw to reach in and retrieve the pint. The suction claw will then gently place the pint into the slot at the bottom for the customer to pick up.
If a flavor is ever out of stock, the machine will cancel the order and allow customers to pick something else. Cash or credit is accepted. All the ice cream is hand-scooped then frozen at -10 degrees before it is placed in the machine, so the lids won’t fall off when being suctioned.
“I’ve been looking at [vending machines] for a couple of years,” What’s the Scoop owner Brady Elsenpeter said. “There’s nothing like it in Minnesota. It’s a vacuum robotic arm that sucks into a freezer and pulls the ice cream out.”
Elsenpeter said he had the idea for an ice cream vending machine when they only had their Buffalo location. Due to city code, Elsenpeter would not have been able to put the machine in front of the Buffalo location, but when they opened the St. Michael location on June 25, he knew the machine would work perfectly behind the shop in their parking lot.
Guests just have to follow the 24/7 ice cream sign around to the back of the building where the parking lot is. The machine is available to access at any time and will be available all year round. The machine will work up to -40 degrees to survive the Minnesota winters.
Produced in Connecticut by Fast Corp Robotic Vending company, Elsenpeter had different types of ice cream machines he could choose from. He went with a machine that served pints of ice cream to allow for ease of travel.
“It’s been a fun addition,” he said. “It’s one of those unique things. You come and use it because it’s kind of a show. No waiting in line, no waiting for it to be scooped, it’s convenient.”
With no machine quite like it in Minnesota, Elsenpeter was not able to it in action until it was at his door. He programmed the machine when it arrived. So far, the gamble has beena hit, with the machine selling out of ice cream in its first four days.
“I was sticking my head out and hoping for the best,” he said. “The community has been awesome, very responsive.”
Elsenpeter receives updates on when and what kind of flavors people get from the machine. He can also see how much ice cream is left in the machine and refills the flavors each day. Elsenpeter’s plan is to rotate the flavors every two to three weeks to keep it fresh and exciting.
Currently, they are selected from the 80 different flavors that What’s The Scoop? has in its roster.
“I tried to hit multiple age groups and some of our most populars, like Superman and bubble gum,” he said. “Next round I have a dairy-free option.”
The St. Michael shop’s indoor scoop service is not open during the winter. It will open again in March. The vending machine will be open for customers all year round. If customers have any questions about the machine, they can message What’s the Scoop? St. Michael through Facebook.