Why people are lining up for rolled ice cream

Yes, it’s a thing, and — lucky us! — the Seattle area has a really good place to try it.

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, we all scream for ice cream, but nobody was screaming for it to get an upgrade. If the idea of a new format involving time-consuming fancy-preparation footwork — with a jump in price to match — fills you with get-off-my-lawn, I understand. When I first heard about rolled ice cream, I rolled my eyes.

So what the hell is it? Said to originate in Thailand, rolled ice cream has become an intercontinental fad. Picture a crepe-making setup, with the round iron on which to spread the batter. Make the iron freezing cold instead of blistering hot. The batter is liquid ice cream base, just as regular ice cream starts out; it gets poured on.

Then, with a Cold Stone Creamery-style two-handed clatter, the flavor gets mixed in — fresh strawberries, for instance, chop-chop-chopped and smashed into the liquid base. Then, quickly spread into a thin layer on the cold surface, it freezes almost instantaneously.

SÜSU Rolled Ice Cream

Summer 2017 schedule

Be sure to check sususeattle.com before you go, as events sometimes cause schedule changes.

Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fremont Market, North 34th Street and Evanston Avenue (May-October).

Wednesdays 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Kirkland Wednesday Market, Marina Park (June-September).

Fridays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Juanita Friday Market, Juanita Beach Park (June-September).

Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,South Lake Union Market, Ninth Avenue and Denny Way (May-September).

An instrument like a paint-scraper is used to scrape the ice cream up, from one side of the cold iron to the other, in about 3-inch-long, cylindrical-shaped, spiral curls. Add some nice-looking toppings, and voilà: rolled ice cream. (If you’d like a visual, there are literally a million videos of ice cream being rolled.)

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Does it taste better than our old friend unrolled ice cream? I thought it’d be airier in texture, feathery sweet-light. Not so much. It’s good! I mean, it’s ice cream. But the rolling doesn’t magically transform it.

So why are people lining up for it, far and wide, waiting longer (sometimes a lot longer) and paying more (ditto)? Several factors are at play. First, never underestimate the human desire for novelty — nor, more nobly, humankind’s hopeful curiosity. (Can they make ice cream better?! I must help in the quest…

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