Can Dippin' Dots Help Ship the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The Ice Cream of the Future may be coming to our rescue.

As you might've noticed, we're now (thankfully, finally) at the stage of the pandemic where COVID-19 vaccines are starting to get approved and roll out. While it's a sorely-needed bit of light at the end of the tunnel after a brutal year, the fact that Pfizer's vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit presents some interesting and fairly unprecedented logistical challenges

As it turns out, the key to solving them might just come down to the "ice cream of the future." According to Today, Dippin' Dots, the ice cream you'd normally see at a mall or amusement park, has fielded inquiries related to properly storing and transporting Pfizer's vaccine at the proper temperature.

As Dippin' Dots Chief Development Officer Sam Jones explains, Dippin' Dots has access to freezers that can get down to -122 degrees Fahrenheit, way, way colder than the 0 degrees Fahrenheit-ish freezer you have at home. Those specialty freezers were developed with help from a subsidiary called Dippin' Dots Cryogenics, making them available to non-ice cream industries.

Scenes from the first OC Fair Food Drive-Thru event
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Unsurprisingly at a time when (hopefully) hundreds of millions of vaccine doses are set to roll out over the coming months, Dippin' Dots is fielding requests for their solutions and expertise.

"We have had a few [requests]... most of our inquiries are coming from pharmacies and places that might be administering the vaccines and are anticipating what they might need for storage," Jones told today. Thankfully, he notes that "we've been getting inquiries but are not overwhelmed by them."

While Dippin' Dots and its cryogenic solutions can certainly provide some help, it's not simply the case of the company lending out a freezer and calling it a day. Though Dippin' Dots are produced in a chamber that can get all the way down to -320ºF with help from liquid nitrogen, the frozen beads that consumers actually eat are stored at a comparatively balmy -40ºF. That limits the amount of material in the Dippin' Dots supply chain that could help properly store vaccines.

At the same time, once a proper fridge gets used for vaccines, whoever acquires it can't exactly just give it back to Dippin' Dots. "We don't recommend storing vaccines in a freezer that was used for food or food in a freezer that has stored vaccine," Jones told Today. "We want to be very cautious about what we tell the end user, because foods and vaccines should not be mixed."

So while there's definitely still a role for Dippin' Dots to play in sharing the COVID-19 vaccine far and wide, their ice cream storage system isn't simply a magic bullet. Still, it sounds like there's a chance that some of Dippin' Dots' equipment will make it easier for us to enjoy their ice cream of the future in public next summer.

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