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A Visit With Ice-O-Matic

A Visit With Ice O Matic

Some of my co-workers and I recently had the privilege to tour the Ice-O-Matic factory in Denver, Colorado.

Now don’t go running off just yet, let me get one thing said up front: I know that factory tours, or even ice for that matter, aren’t exactly at the top of the list for must-do’s, but I think each of us learned something during that tour.  Not only did we learn more about ice in general, but we also learned that Ice-O-Matic is filled with passionate people that love to share that passion with others – yes, even over ice – and believe that investing in an ice machine is more than just another piece of equipment in your kitchen.

Okay, So What’s With the Ice?

Of course we had to start the tour with a run through of ice and how the machines work.  Among other facts, I think my biggest take-a-way was that I’ll never look at ice in my cup the same way anymore – cleaning and sanitizing is crucial with ice machines because ice is considered a food.

As a germ-a-phobe myself, I told our presenter that now I have yet another phobia to add to my list of foods to be scared of.  He of course laughed and said, “Well, as long as that machine stays clean and the water is filtered, consumers of ice should be just fine, and the life-span of the ice machine is greatly increased.”

But it wasn’t just the cleanliness of ice that I was able to walk away with; we also learned a slew of information about the frozen water:

  1. Cube Ice: Bars typically prefer to serve up bigger ice sizes because it makes the beverage look more appealing – some bars even buy blocks of ice so they can cube it themselves.  This style of ice is also preferred in hotter climates because it takes longer to melt.  75% of Americans prefer cube ice.
  2. Flake Ice: Schools, Universities and Healthcare facilities prefer flake ice because it can also be used for packing around injuries.  Grocery stores prefer flake ice to showcase seafood because it helps prevent the meat from bruising, and it can be formed into shapes – think waves of ice.
  3. Pearl Ice: Known by most consumers as Sonic Ice, the food service industry loves this type of ice because it’s chewable and takes the flavor of the beverage.  And believe it or not, 7 out of 10 people like to chew ice, and this is the preferred type to chew.  This ice is also commonly used for merchandising and displays.

But What Does That Have to Do With My Business?

Buying an ice machine isn’t just about choosing the right type of ice.  Our presenter was very insistent on making sure that each establishment looking to invest in a new ice machine was matched up with the right ice machine for them.  It’s not about the biggest, or most expensive; it’s about ensuring that the average ice usage per day is met, while leaving room for future growth.

A Visit With Ice O Matic

Okay, I’m listening, what else?

It’s also about knowing warranty details, like using a filter (and regularly changing it) can extend the ice machines warranty by 7 years!  And because water taste, hardness, chemicals, etc. vary in different parts of the country, having a filter is crucial to ensure the safety of the consumers. And the good news is that Ice-O-Matic will send out reminders for when your filter should be changed – you’ll have to make sure to register the warranty though.

After our presentation, we were then taken to the factory where we were able to see exactly how each of Ice-O-Matics ice machines were made.  Here’s a great video from the show “How it’s Made” so you too can see how they’re made:

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Ice, Ice Baby – Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice?

Ice, Ice Baby   Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice?Ice is like origami paper.

Okay not really, but it can be made into many different shapes and forms. Each shape has a purpose and is ideal for specific needs due to size, melting time, etc. All commercial ice machine brands manufacturer cube, nugget and flake style ice, but some have patented forms too.

Cube Ice Makers

Whether you need 100 lbs or 2,000 lbs of ice, you can certainly find a cuber that will fit your needs. There are two types of cube ice machines: undercounters and modular cuber heads. Undercounters are perfect for back bars, convenience stores, motels, or really anywhere with critical, but minimal ice needs. Modular cuber heads require an ice bin or an ice dispenser to store the ice. These are commonly used in restaurants, resorts and healthcare facilities. Cubers make the following ice forms:

Full Cube

Full Dice, Medium Cube

Square (approximately 1” x 1” x 1”) cubes that cool drinks quickly due to their large surface area. Food Service establishments, bars, and hotels feel this style is perfect for their business because it gives drinks and cocktails visual appeal and melts slowly.

Half Cube

Half Dice, Small Cube

Half as big as a full cube and shaped like a pat of butter or Starburst candy, this shape fits tightly in glasses leaving less room for liquid which can keep costs down on high markup drinks. The half cube is commonly used in restaurants with self-serve fountain drink dispensers. It dispensers easily with infrequent clogging leaving little room for unexpected maintenance.

Crescent Ice

Hoshizaki is famous for their crescent ice form which looks like a half moon: one side is rounded while the other is flat. This shape resists clumping and catches your eye as it sits in cocktails. Similar to the half cube, this form is ideal for self-service beverage stations.

Gourmet Ice

Top-Hat Ice, Clear Ice, Octagon Ice

Large, slow-melting ice form are ideal for classy mixed drinks. This type of ice measures approximately 1” x 1 1/8” x 1 ¼” and shaped similar to a Rolo chocolate. This cube is crystal clear and comprised entirely of water due to its unique freezing process – the air is completely eliminated during the freezing process making it an elegant touch to beverages. Gourmet ice is ideal for catering, banquet halls, resorts and full service bars looking for a “wow” factor to add to cocktails.

Flakers

Flake Ice

Shaved Ice, Crushed Ice

This ice form resembles small chips of ice and comes in an array of sizes. It is soft and slow melting and versatile for ice displays and healthcare facilities. Seafood markets often use flake ice for displays to avoid spoilage, and hospitals find it necessary for beverages because it is chewable. Therapeutic establishments say it’s ideal for treating injuries because it can be easily molded over wounds.

Nugget Ice Makers

Nugget Ice

Sonic Ice, Pearl Ice, Cubelet Ice, Chewblett Ice, Pellet Ice

Named for its small, soft, and unique cylindrical shape, this enjoyable ice form is perfect for fountain beverages, smoothies, blended cocktails, salad bars and heathcare facilities. Sonic is famous for using this ice type, but it is becoming more and more popular in fast casual food service establishments.

Types of Ice by Brand Ice, Ice Baby   Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice? Ice, Ice Baby   Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice? Ice, Ice Baby   Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice? Ice, Ice Baby   Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice? Ice, Ice Baby   Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice? Ice, Ice Baby   Why Are There So Many Different Types of Ice?
Scotsman Medium Dice Small Dice Gourmet Ice Flake Ice Nugget Ice
Ice-O-Matic Full Cube Half Cube Flake Ice Pearl Ice
Manitowoc Full Dice Half Dice Flake Ice Nugget Ice
Hoshizaki Crescent Ice Top-Hat Ice Flake Ice Cubelet Ice

 

And here’s a great home recipe for making ice – just make sure you follow instructions exactly (and read the comments for recommendations).

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