The first thing I noticed when I walked into Creamistry on bustling Lowest Greenville was a cloud of liquid nitrogen smoke billowing from behind the counter. As the smoke spilled into the main space, it reminded me of a fog machine at a concert or a haunted house. But I was just there to get ice cream after my dinner down the street. This was new.
I approached the order counter and asked the man behind it how the ice cream-making process works at Creamistry, a California-based chain with several other locations in North Texas. This Greenville location opened last month. He said that, instead of the traditional freezing method that can take a few hours, they put the ingredients into a machine and use liquid nitrogen, at -321 degrees, to freeze the mixture on contact. The fast freezing supposedly keeps the milk particles smaller than normal, when in turn creates a super-creamy texture.
It was time to try it for myself. The store serves more than 60 topping and flavor choices, like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Thai tea, tiramisu, and black cherry. You choose your size first: regular, large, or Nitroshake. I chose regular, which was already pretty big. I wished they had an option for “small.” Then your base: premium dairy, organic dairy, coconut milk, or non-dairy sorbet. I went with the premium, and my companion chose coconut. Then you choose your flavor—I asked for Nutella, he ordered Fruity Pebbles. I opted to add strawberries on top. I should mention that the “regular” started at $5.99 without toppings, a steep price for a scoop of ice cream. But maybe it’d be worth it.
A woman wearing a Creamistry visor mixed our ingredients and added the nitrogen, whose smoke floated over the glass partition and onto my skin—a nice, cool, momentary respite from the hot night outside. Then she scooped out the finished product and filled our cups.
We sat on a bench outside and dug in. Mine was definitely creamy, although the flavor of the Nutella was faint. The Fruity Pebbles, with the coconut milk base, was a little less creamy, but the cereal flavor was stronger. Neither of us was able to finish our ice cream because there was so much of it, hence why a smaller, cheaper option would have been beneficial.
It wasn’t the best ice cream I’ve tasted, but it was satisfying on a summer night. And it was fun to watch the liquid nitrogen work its magic. That was the coolest part.