It started with a tweet from a Wall Street Journal editor that spiraled out of control in cyberspace before the paper broke the bad news: Dippin' Dots, "The Ice Cream of the Future," has filed for bankruptcy. If you've ever been to Disneyworld or spent much time at the mall, you've probably tried the multi-colored, tongue-snagging, tooth-aching treat. You might have even liked it. The business has proved problematic, however, leaving enthusiasts squirming on the floor in grief. Or at the very least, sending a few journalists on tweeting sprees as the meme about how the ice cream of the future is doomed. The Atlantic's Derek Thompson said it best: "THE FUTURE IS DEAD."
In case you missed the reactions, we've pulled together a little timeline, starting with the tweet from Dennis K. Berman, marketplace editor for WSJ, that kicked it off:
Sad news for fans of those tiny ice cream pellets known as Dippin' Dots. The Paducah, Ky. company just filed for bankruptcy.
Katy Stech published the full report about an hour later on WSJ's website. She wastes not a single word before making the future joke:
The future of ice cream is having trouble surviving today.
Dippin' Dots Inc., the self-described "ice cream of the future," filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Paducah, Ky., near its headquarters, after fighting off foreclosure efforts from Regions Bank for more than a year, according to court documents. At the time of the filing, the company owed about $11.1 million to the bank.
Kevin Roose at The New York Times points us to a 2008 tribute from The Onion in which people from the future tell us about their ice cream habits. It's worth pointing out that the dipped-in-liquid-nitrogen bit is completely true. That's actually how Dippin' Dots are made, and we believe, how they got their name:
"People of the 21st century, the future holds great and wonderful things," said the man, who only identified himself as "Wolcott," during an address televised in all of the world's countries. "One hundred years from now, dessert items are made by flash-freezing beads of cream with liquid nitrogen, then storing them in subzero conditions. People enjoy these treats with great regularity, and often remark upon how delicious they taste."
"We call this ubiquitous dessert of the future 'Dippin' Dots,'" the man added.
Farhad Manjoo at Slate went straight to the archives (read: Google) and dug up some recent coverage of the downfall of Dippin' Dots including a July story about the manufacturing process in The New York Times and a piece that Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in August about "the future of the future of ice cream." Thompson included this video:
Juli Weiner from Vanity Fair's VF Daily blog wrote an obituary of sorts around the same time under the headline, "Dippin' Dots, Difficult Snack and National Treasure, Files for Bankruptcy." She mourns:
Dippin' Dots demanded minimalism and a purity of vision. The individual Dots themselves were nearly the size of sprinkles, and any topping would have overwhelmed them. (Toppings, unlike cones, were available but, in this blogger's experience, unpopular.) Dots were better and tastier because they lived alone. They died alone, too, and will melt and melt until they eventually rejoin the universe, melting back into stardust that will become a part of each of us, forever.
Benjamin Bacon, who describes himself as the "head of social media for a large internet company," made an AOL joke:
First, AOL reports they still have 3.5M dial up users, now Dippin Dots files for bankruptcy...are we all just not ready for the future??
Cathy McCaughan, a "middle aged mom of five" from Knoxville, Tennessee with a "gold medal in sarcasm," would like to take the blame:
Dippin Dots is bankrupt and it's all my fault because I never had the courage to taste it. My bad.
The Atlantic Wire's own Eric Randall nailed the reaction in our group chat, however. Tweeters beware:
Making ice cream of the future jokes is apparently dangerously close to a Cliché Watch. I'll let you all off if only because I made an even staler McRib joke.
And so we have hope. The world mourned when the McDonald's retired the McRib, but then they brought it back! American interpretations of food tend to show uncanny resilience at times, and a little bankruptcy filing might not spell doom for Dippin' Dots. If it does, it looks like some fans might take things into their own hands to keep the future alive. Cue the training montage.