Why Dippin' Dots Nearly Went Bankrupt

A dish of Dippin' Dots ice cream is fun with its unconventional tiny balls of sugary goodness. It's available in 30 flavors, including cookies and cream, cotton candy, and chocolate chip cookie dough. Dippin' Dots were created by microbiologist Curt Jones in 1988 who used cryogenic technology to produce the futuristic ice cream (via theĀ Dippin' Dots' website).

"I grew up on a farm and used to make homemade ice cream a lot," Jones said. "Working on the yogurt bacteria, I found the little beads fun to play with. Then a month or two later, I was making ice cream with a neighbor and decided it would be better if we could freeze it faster" (via Mental Floss). That's when Jones started freezing the ice cream in liquid nitrogen at negative 320 degrees, creating what we know today as Dippin' Dots.

According to the Dippin' Dots website, shops can be found in more than 100 shopping centers and more than 1,000 theme parks and movie theaters. Ninety billion Dippin' Dots are gobbled up by lovers of the unique ice cream every year.

When the ice cream business becomes not so cool

Despite the happy appearances of the ice cream world, life was not always so sweet in the Dippin' Dots world. Dippin' Dots filed a lawsuit against competitor Mini Melts in 1996 which led to nine years of litigation and an eventual loss for Dippin' Dots due to a patent technicality (via Mental Floss).

According to Smithsonian Magazine, "...it was determined that Jones had sold a similar version of the product he eventually patented to more than 800 customers more than one year prior to the filing of the patent, making the company's claim against Mini Melts unfounded. The Federal Circuit Court ruled that Dippin' Dots method of making frozen ice cream pellets was invalid because it was obvious."

As if a lost court case wasn't bad enough, in 2011 Dippin' Dots filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, owing Regions Bank over $11 million on eight promissory notes (via Smithsonian Magazine). Jones reassured customers, "We're going to keep making Dippin' Dots, so nobody needs to worry" (via Mental Floss). Luckily, in 2012, an Oklahoma businessman bought the company for $12.7 million and secured continued production in Dippin' Dots' Kentucky manufacturing plant (via Smithsonian Magazine).

Sounds like the ice cream of the tomorrow will be enjoyed well into the future.