Chilling with JetBlue – Serving Up Frozen Delights for the Inaugural Boston to London Flight
When the ColdSnap team rolled up to Logan airport last week it was one of those steaming hot days so common this summer. We unloaded four of our ColdSnap machines, 800 pods (the cans of premium liquid ice cream mix), and got ready to enter the terminal, the heat radiating off of the ground. A good day for ice cream.
We went to the JetBlue check-in counter to collect our gate passes – JetBlue’s first ever flight from Boston to London Gatwick wasn’t scheduled to depart until 6:30pm but we arrived at 10am. The airport was a buzz with the usual combination of excitement and stress as we were escorted through security, our ColdSnap machines making their way down the conveyor belt and through the scanners.
After being delayed almost a year, there was much anticipation for the event. We were excited that JetBlue reached out to see if we could put our novel, patented technology on the flight – ColdSnap machines serve up individual portions of premium ice cream from shelf stable, ambient temperature ColdSnap pods and require no water line or cleanup. This could be particularly useful on an airplane where it’s not possible to give ice cream to 200-300 passengers – there’s just not enough freezer space.
Rather than venturing across the Atlantic on the flight itself, it was decided that ColdSnap would be part of the day’s on-the-ground fanfare. There would be music, food, the Queen’s Guard (well, a comedic version anyway), and ColdSnap! Our job for the day was to serve up some premium ColdSnap ice cream to those taking the journey.
Delivering Sweet Treats in the Employee Lounges
Before taking our station at the gate, we had two other stops to make. We headed down to the “orange mile” where some of the JetBlue staff take their breaks. We set up two ColdSnap machines and employees began to gather around, smiling in anticipation as we started freezing ice cream on demand.
Half of our team then split off, venturing to the JetBlue flight crew’s break area at the other side of the terminal. In a flurry of activity, two more machines were set up, accompanied by toppings like oreos and sprinkles. A crowd quickly formed – attendants arriving back from a flight, pilots awaiting their next journey, and those on call – everyone beaming as they lined up for ice cream.
For the next three hours, we doled out generous portions, one JetBlue employee after another digging into the flavor of their choosing – Vanilla, Chocolate, Salted Caramel and the ice cream of the day – Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Making Our Specialty Flavor – Sticky Toffee Pudding
What is Sticky Toffee Pudding? While it may be unfamiliar to those of us on this side of the pond, Sticky Toffee Pudding is a traditional British dessert. The ColdSnap food scientists fast-forwarded through their normal product development timeline, whipping up this decadent ice cream flavor in just a couple of weeks.
Since we had never tasted Sticky Toffee Pudding, the first step in making this new flavor was to bake the actual dessert, which is loaded with brown sugar, molasses, dates and treacle (we didn’t know what this was either, but treacle is a byproduct of refining sugar – essentially molasses). The resulting cake with toffee sauce was sweet and deeply rich in flavor. Cue new favorite dessert!
Once we had the dessert itself down, we needed to capture the essence of Sticky Toffee Pudding and impart it into our
ice cream. The food science team got to work mixing up cream and milk with traditional Sticky Toffee Pudding ingredients. We replaced regular sugar with brown sugar, added caramel and dates, and then adjusted the levels until they were just right. We paraded our new creation around the office for our ColdSnap teammates to taste. The team loved it, and you can imagine our delight when we showcased the new flavor for JetBlue and it garnered the same response.
Person after person came up, requesting our specialty flavor after being referred by their JetBlue coworkers. To make the experience even more fun, the Sticky Toffee ice cream came with a custom pod design. Our graphic designer outfitted Penguino (the ColdSnap mascot) in the British Guard’s oversized Beefeater hat and completed the design with UK and US flags. Needless to say, this flavor brought smiles all around.
Getting the Inside Scoop with the Flight Crew
As our guests waited for their ice cream, we discovered some details from the in-flight crew that you normally don’t have the
leisure of learning. Whereas inflight interactions are usually limited to “What would you like to drink?” as a pleasantly smiling attendant passes you a tiny crunchy snack mix, and, “Watch your hands and feet!” as the beverage cart clunks your way, we had some time between divvying up ice cream to go just a tad beyond this.
We chatted with flight attendants about where their last flight came from, where they were headed, and their favorite destination – an unexpected overnight beachfront stay in Puerto Rico topped this list for one attendant.
Curious as to what could be considered an annoying passenger request? “Root beer! Why do you need root beer?” one attendant emphatically responded. We also learned it takes time to rise through the flight attendant ranks and that it was tough to get a spot on the crew for the direct flight to London. “Once you’re part of this crew,” one attendant informed us, “you only do that flight.”
One by one, we handed out ice creams to each member of the in-flight crew, as throngs of people rotated through the break room as flights came in.
After a few hours in the break rooms, we packed up and headed to our next location – the gate where we’d spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening. Some of our new JetBlue friends were now at their respective posts, staffing the gate desk or keeping watch in the terminal, and we waved at each other as we passed by.
Fanfare Fit for the Queen
As we approached the JetBlue gate for this significant flight, it was clear we were in for a party. A massive backdrop of the Union Jack, a replica of the London Bridge, and balloon displays greeted us along with a podium for speeches. A pair of aircraft marshallers dressed as the Queen’s Guard marched purposefully through the terminal, flight batons a comical accompaniment to their Beefeater hats and red jackets.
We arrived at the gate and unboxed our ColdSnap machines, quickly setting them up as a crowd began to congregate. We were positioned adjacent to a table serving distinctly British food – fish and chips alongside tea in the most adorably extravagant paper cups you could hope to find. Dinner, drinks, and dessert!
If the original intent was to serve ice cream just to the passengers and crew of the flight, this quickly went out the window as we began doling out desserts to anyone in the terminal who ventured inquisitively our way (this turned out to be quite a number of people). The ColdSnap team kept the (friendly) mob of people supplied with a steady stream of just-made ice cream.
“It’s so creamy,” “Wow, this is delicious,” and “The Salted Caramel will change your life!” people exclaimed. With travelers from the UK milling about, this would be the true test of whether our Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream met the expectations of those familiar with the dessert. We watched expectantly as British tasters dug in. They grinned, nodding approvingly – “You hit the mark!” and “This is really good,” they said between bites.
Spirits were high and the ColdSnap team had our hands full, slinging ice cream and chatting with visitors over British Invasion music. Can you imagine arriving at your gate to unexpectedly find such an extravagant celebration!?
While much of the feedback we received was in regard to the flavors and creaminess of the ice cream, many people were in awe of the technology itself – a quick freezing appliance that makes individual servings of ice cream from a shelf stable (room temperature) pod!? Since ColdSnap isn’t widely available yet to the public (we are in the midst of our beta launch in greater Boston), people were clearly excited to experience our prototype machines.
As the event progressed, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes gave some brief remarks. After the bursts of confetti settled, we jumped at the opportunity to grab pictures with the guards (they hilariously hammed it up, breaking the traditional stoic character with over-the-top goofy smirks and comments).
The Party Winds Down
Most people began to migrate toward the gate as it neared 6pm, full of ice cream and fish sticks and ready to board their flight. Some lingered behind to try other flavors and ask questions, but as it pushed past 6:30, it was time to pack up. After a very full day, the ColdSnap team was tired and it was time to go home. While we didn’t take to the skies to experience the flight, the free wifi, high quality food and stellar crew make us eager to venture overseas for some authentic Sticky Toffee Pudding!
The ColdSnap team had a blast serving up ice cream for the festivities accompanying JetBlue’s first ever direct flight from Boston to London. It was fascinating to get a behind the scenes peek at what goes on for the crews that support our travels and add some fun to their day. We’re all about celebrating, bringing joy, and helping people connect, and we loved getting to do all of that at such a cool location – Boston’s Logan Airport.
As we left the terminal, entered the parking area and loaded up for the return trip, we pondered our unique day. The gate at the airport is typically associated with the impatience and boredom of awaiting a departure, but today it doubled as a full on music-dancing-food-ice cream party! One thing is certain – ColdSnap is here for the party. We are excited by the idea of partnering with airlines such as JetBlue to bring some chill to the in-flight experience. Who knows, maybe on a future flight you will be treated to some freshly frozen ColdSnap ice cream! We grinned with satisfaction from a day well spent and headed back to the shop.
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