Name: Shrishti Tijaria
(Industrial Design Student, 4th Semester)
Institution: National Institute of Design, Andhra Pradesh
Course: Simple Product Design
Duration: 5 weeks (1st June 2020- 3rd July 2020)
Guide: Kuntal De

ICE CREAM SCOOP

1st June 2020 (Extremes)

Recently, I started to analyze the ice cream scoop as a part of my assignment and the task was to consider the two extreme ends of the product — simple and complex — be it in terms of function, form or context.

So, what could be the simplest form of the scoop? Looking at the components of the product, an ice cream scoop is nothing but a utensil with a concave bowl, a neck and a handle. These components remind me of a regular kitchen spoon or to make it more specific, the scoop’s structure is similar to that of a spoon.

I always wondered why modern scoops have thick handles and are heavy, and I was surprised by the fact that they have a thermally conductive liquid in the handle to help keep the ice cream from freezing to the scoop’s metal. Isn’t that interesting!

Motivated by the above fact, I drew my speculations for the scoop. What if the freezing temperature of the ice cream is absorbed into the handle, making it easier for us to scoop out the hard ice cream? Or what if a sensor in the handle could measure the amount of ice cream on the scoop (just like a measuring scoop does), displaying the number of calories corresponding to the weight of ice cream? [1 scoop = ½ cup = 68 gm = 137 calories (vanilla ice cream)] That would be a charm for the health-conscious people who could manage their intake of excess calories while enjoying their regretful delight. The rim of the bowl of the scoop could further have a sharper edge or some heating mechanism that would ease the scooping process, reducing the efforts.

I did not play much with the form but focused on incorporating distinct functions into it. After the discussion with my peers, I realized that other than this approach, form and context can also increase the complexity of the product, making the product more playful and interactive.

2nd June 2020 (Purpose)

As a follow up to yesterday’s task, we asked, “Why are we trying to better the product?” To answer that, the purpose of the product plays an important role.
Here are some purposes in different contexts/ scenarios in the form of story-boarding:

Ball Scoop
Stamp Scoop
Smart Scoop
Flexible Scoop
Separating Scoop
Liquid Scoop

This activity expanded our scope for using the product other than in its conventional way.

3rd June 2020 (Design Brief)

The first ice cream scoop was invented in 1897 by the African American businessman and inventor Alfred L.Cralle. His invention, originally called an Ice Cream Mold and Disher, was designed to be able to keep ice cream and other foods from sticking and be able to be used by one hand.

His design brief of addressing the problem of the ice cream scoop led him to his very first successful invention. Thus, the design brief is the essence of any design project. It characterises the goal of the product or the process involved.

Talking about the ice cream scoop, I ideated on various contexts and scenarios related to it and the numerous problems associated with it.

In the end, my interest flowed in two directions. I ideated about a scoop for kids and a scoop for the ice cream scoopers serving in a shop.

Design briefs:

  1. Design a scoop for kids that makes them self dependent and aids in their development process
  2. Design a scoop for the ice cream scoopers serving in the ice cream parlours for an easy and efficient give away of ice creams

8th June 2020 (Task Analysis)

How well do we know the ice cream scoop or the process involved in scooping ice cream? For this purpose, task analysis is very important. This not only helps us in understanding the product and the process better but also allows us to expand our views on the essential design parameters which we often overlook.

Below are the processes that lead to the achievement of the task and questions raised by looking closely at the process and the challenges.

The process of task analysis helped in the better understanding of the product for developing design parameters which are often overlooked when assessing the process.

9th June 2020 (History)

Task analysis has made us question the product and the process of the ice cream scoop, but who came up with the idea of inventing it and why?

Prior to the invention of the ice cream scoop, employees had to use two spoons or ladles to scoop the ice cream and then transfer it from the spoon to the dish. This was a messy process that wasted the product.

In 1878, using a funnel- or cone-shaped device with a scraper inside, operated by turning a knob or a key located at the tip or the end of the cone, it was George William Clewell who technically moved people away from using two spoons for scooping ice cream and instead use a single utensil. One simply had to scoop the ice cream using the utensil, then turn the knob at the end of the cone to release the ice cream onto the serving container. There was one minor problem, though. You still had to use both hands to operate the utensil, one to hold the utensil and, one to turn the knob to scrape and release the ice cream.

1878 Tin Ice Cream “Conical Key Scoop”

19 years later, the above problem was solved when Alfred L. Cralle invented the ice cream scoop. The patent was received on February 2, 1897. The invention was originally called the “Ice Cream Mold and Disher.” The invention was important because it made serving ice cream easy without using two hands or two separate utensils.

Since the Mold and Disher was strong and durable, effective, and inexpensive, it could be constructed in almost any desired shape, such as a cone or a mound, with no delicate parts that could break or malfunction.

1897 Mechanical Lever-action ice cream scoop

So, how has this invention changed the world?

Although the invention was simple, it helped lead the Civil Rights Movement. Alfred is celebrated as one of the leading visionaries of African-American culture as he was one of the first African Americans to get a patent without a white partner.

Alfred didn’t become famous for inventing the ice cream scoop. The ice cream scoop was very popular, but it spread so quickly that not many people knew who the inventor was. The creation of the ice cream cone during the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, cemented the utility of the ice cream scoops that have made their way into our homes and kitchens.

1903 Square ice cream scoop

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  • In 1903, square and rectangular scoops were designed to create the frozen portion of an ice cream sandwich.
  • Triangular scoops created a perfect shape for topping a slice of pie to be served a la mode.

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1920s Oval ice cream scoop

In the 1920s, Gilchrist made an oval scoop that formed ice cream to fit between two bananas for Banana Split.

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1925 Heart-shaped ice cream scoop and dish

In 1925, John Manos designed the heart-shaped scoops to create a small heart-shaped scoop of ice cream, which could be served in a matching heart-shaped dish.

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1926 Cold Dog ice cream scoop

In 1926, Frederick W. Vollans patented a scoop that scooped up ice cream in the shape of sausage to fit into a tubular wafer for what was known as a Cold Dog Ice Cream Scoop. In an age where the American hot dog was king, the Cold Dog ice cream cone became a popular treat.

The invention of ice cream scoops did not lead to any other inventions but there have been many innovations of the product. For example, the Belle-V has created an angled ice cream scoop that prevents you from having to bending or snapping your wrist. Most innovations aim at improving the existing features of the product.

Prototypes showing the evolution of Belle-V ice cream scoop

Today, the lever design is still used, but other versions have come along to make it even easier to dip ice cream. Some modern versions include the mechanical scoop, which uses a bail to slide the ice cream out of the scoop when you press the lever. Another newer design is the warming scoop, which makes digging into this frozen dessert a cinch. Flat types, called ice cream spades, work well for soft ice cream. Most designs are made of stainless steel and some have an ergonomic handle to make scooping easier and less tiring on your hands.

Other ice cream scoop designs

The perfect temperature for scooping ice cream is between 6°F and 10°F.

Sources:

10th June 2020 (Research Goals)

RESEARCH GOALS are an important part of research as it directs us to the question of why we are doing the research and what is it that we are trying to get answers for. They guide us by stating what do we want to achieve from our research.

Correspondingly, my research goals are:

  1. To find how people want to enjoy the experience of consuming ice cream for understanding in what quantities and in what ways it can be served alongside other desserts.
  2. To find other ice cream serving tools and machines apart from the scoop for studying the difference in how people consumed ice cream before the invention of the scoop and the inventions alongside the scoop.
  3. To find parallel products of the ice cream scoop and of the process of dispensing/ serving ice cream for getting inspiration from the similar features and characteristics of the products.

Before jumping on to my research goals it's Ice Cream Time for all the ice cream lovers. During the lockdown, it has been really difficult to resist the temptation of ice cream in the summers. So why not make it at home!

You don’t need an expensive ice cream machine to enjoy homemade ice cream. The easiest way to make ice cream at home is using just three ingredients- whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk and the flavour you want to enjoy (vanilla, chocolate, coffee, green tea, any fruit, any vegetable, any meat, actually anything- there are endless flavours which may sound weird to the ear but delight to your taste palette, just like pickled mango ice cream or ghost pepper ice cream — you’ll have to sign a waiver if you plan to order it!) So, mix and match different flavours and create your delight.

Fun Fact- It takes about 50 licks to finish a single scoop ice cream cone!

So apart from flavours, how is the experience of consuming ice cream enriched? What ways can it be served in? Does its quantity differ with every dessert it’s served with? How do people actually want to have it?

  • on a cone
  • in a cup/ bowl
  • on a stick
  • in a sundae
  • in a sandwich
  • in a taco
  • rolled (cold stone)
  • in a milkshake
  • in a cake
  • fried
  • as spaghetti
  • in a bread
  • as quenelles
  • in ice cream soda
  • in ice cream float
  • in a fruit salad
  • with brownies/ waffles/ pancakes/ tarts/ pies
  • with flavoured syrups and toppings
  • as mini frozen ice-cream balls (liquid nitrogen ice cream balls)

Ways to have ice cream are as diverse as its flavours. It finds its way in any form or any dessert and makes itself a perfect addition. Even people with teeth sensitive to cold enjoy ice cream more alongside other desserts. Cold foods and drinks not only have an impact on our sensitive teeth but also on our brain, causing a short-term headache lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes!

Fact- Brain freeze occurs when ice cream touches the roof of your mouth.

Although the invention of the ice cream scoop did not lead to any other inventions, there were many innovations of it, which aimed at improving the efficiency of the existing features. Apart from the scoops, many tools and machines also came up which served the purpose of serving ice cream before the invention of the scoop and alongside its innovations.

The below table is a compilation of how ice cream serving tools have not only evolved but also the form in which ice cream is served has changed.

The form of ice cream has changed with dollops of ice cream on a plate, quenelles, scoops, bars to foam, spaghetti, mini frozen balls, rolled ice cream, and even bite-size bonbons. So have the tools, machines and technology used to make them.

One of the ice cream forms that captivated me the most was the Ice Cream Spaghetti. It was invented in 1969 in Germany by Dario Fontanella, who squeezed vanilla ice cream through a Spätzlepresse, similar to a potato ricer, which transformed the ice cream into vermicular shapes. It was topped with fake sauce and fake Parmesan.

Strawberry sauce on top (mimicking the tomato sauce) with spaghetti ice cream (mimicry pasta) drizzled with fake Parmesan (grated coconut/almonds/white chocolate)

I became so obsessed with it that I’m trying it out at home!

After I tried it, I found that temperature plays a major role in making it. Although the kitchen press did dispense ice cream in noodle-like form, it started to melt as soon as it dripped into the bowl because of the extreme heat in my region.

PARALLEL PRODUCT SEARCH

I categorized the process involved in scooping ice cream into different stages and tried to associate parallel products with it.

  • Parallel products for the act of scooping (products that have similar form and function as that of the ice cream scoop)
  • How ice cream releases itself from the scoop — Parallel products (products with the same mechanism as a sweeper)
  • How ice cream releases itself from the scoop — Parallel products (products with the same mechanism)
  • Parallel products for the act of serving (how ice cream is served)

The parallel products might help in giving inspiration while conceptualizing the final design.

14th June 2020 (User Analysis)

Studying the user group is the next important part of the process for identifying specific design features required in the process of conceptualization.

USER ANALYSIS

For a good user experience, user research is a key factor that can help us identify the main user group we are designing for and help us understand what their specific needs are.

CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS OF THE USER

(Who is the user, what does the user do, where does the user live — economic, social, technological background)

Ice cream scoops are maximum used by adults and are maximum used for children. Hence, designing for the children can make them independent and also, because the product must be promising for parents (they are the buyers for their children), it can be used by them as well, covering the maximum user group.

Hence, my target group are the children of age group 10 to 15 years, the age where children develop interdependence and logical skills. They have already acquired gross and fine motor skills before this age set and are trying to acquire patience, giving up on the instant feedback which they needed earlier and are developing to think abstractly.

According to Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Stages of Development, children of age 11 years and older fall under the formal operational stage where, children are able to use logic to solve problems, view the world around them, and plan for the future.

Therefore, defining my user group are school going children of age group 10 to 15 years, who are in a middle-class urban setting. They are at the formal operational stage of development.

Corresponding to the user analysis, some more research needs to be done on the following goals:

  1. To study the problems faced in a domestic setting while storing and scooping ice cream
  2. To study the child’s cognitive stages of development, their state of mind while interpreting the product and how do they differ from adults

PROBLEMS FACED IN A DOMESTIC SETTING

  • The freezer temperature at home is around -18° C, and the perfect temperature for scooping ice cream is between -14°C and -12°C. Hence, it makes it difficult to scoop at home and we have to let the ice cream normalize its temperature for a while before scooping as compared to the ice cream parlours, where the temperature of the freezer is set accordingly, to get the creamy ice cream.
  • Another major problem is that ice cream at home is not stored properly. There’s a higher risk of freezer burn at home as compared to the ice cream parlours. Freezer burn is a condition that occurs when frozen food has been damaged by dehydration and oxidation, due to air reaching the food. It is generally caused by food not being securely wrapped in air-tight packaging. The food is still safe, because it has remained below freezing, but will likely taste bad and have a bad texture.
  • An article said that “Serving ice cream becomes an art form when that creamy goodness freezes into a block of what seems like all ice and no cream. To make a long story short, I could definitely lift 20 pounds more with my right arm than my left. Focus on your right arm at the gym before applying to any ice cream store!” Thus, it does require a lot of effort to scoop the hard ice cream which can strain our hands, especially wrists, listing our next problem.
  • Warming scoops are traditionally made of aluminium — this is bad because it means that they start lacking sufficient durability with every wash (contact with water). They can’t be put in the dishwasher, either. Some scoops even feature a coating, that flakes off over time.
  • Another problem faced is that because the ice cream container is deep (like that of ice cream bricks), while scooping from it, our hands tend to get dirty towards the wrists, making the process messy.

All these problems hinder the children from using scoops at home.

CHILDREN HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO TURN EVERYTHING INTO PLAY. First-time parents are often perplexed to find their children playing with the box that housed a toy, just as readily as the toy itself. The world of the imagination is simply more accessible and tangible to children, who are not yet hardened by the years of pattern recognition that cause adults to categorize and compartmentalize experiences based on clearly defined expectations.

- Chapter 5, “Understanding Industrial Design” by Simon King and Kuen Chang

The above excerpt explains how creatively children interact with any product, even a box, and use their imagination differently with every interaction as they do not have the preset pattern of how to use a product.

What affects the adults purchasing decisions on products for children? Three major factors for influencing parents to buy products of children are pestering from children, social media, and branding.

Jean Piaget insisted that the formal operational stage (11 years and older) is the final stage of cognitive development in a child, and that continued intellectual development in adults depends on the accumulation of knowledge.

  • Children learn in quite different ways than adults as they learn faster than adults.
  • A child’s mind works differently but they have their ways to deal with the world around them very well.
  • They learn by observations, by interactions with other people and by their own feelings. And they learn an enormous amount through their imagination.
  • Play is what pulls together the logical and creative parts of the brain.
  • Storytelling also helps them understand — their knowledge and understanding have gaps and children try to bridge those through fantasy and irrational explanations.
  • Interactive learning can teach children a different set of skills — social skills, cognitive skills, language skills, and motor skills.

Sources:

16th June 2020 (Attributes/ Keywords)

We thought of various keywords which could help us conceptualize the concepts.

19th June 2020 (Conceptualization)

CONCEPT-1

Concept-1

CONCEPT-2

Concept-2

CONCEPT-3

Concept-3

After looking into the concepts, I made an assessment matrix to understand them better. It helped me to understand the criteria better and look at how different parameters are fulfilled and rated on the basis of their desirability.

Concept-1 seems to fulfil most of the parameters and hence, I’ll improvise and explore more on the concept.

But after assessing all the concepts, certain questions popped up.

  • How much threading is required in the second concept?
  • What if the threading is inside the tube? Will it be more safe and efficient?
  • How do you clean the scoop?
  • Can ice cream be dispensed in different shapes?
  • What if the first two concepts are combined?
  • Does the scoop require assembly before use?

After thinking more on the concepts, I doubted that “When we redesign an existing product, do we also look at how it will impact the existing version of it?”

This is when another concept came to my mind where I thought of designing a new part to the existing design that would be attached to any existing scoop and would increase the efficiency while scooping ice cream. This would not only save the material and cost of production but also ensure that the existing scoops are not discarded with the introduction of the new ones.

REDEFINED DESIGN BRIEF

To design an ice cream scoop attachment for existing plastic scoops available in households, for easy and efficient scooping of ice cream by children.

CONCEPT-4

Concept-4

For Concept-2 and Concept-4, I tried to test the mechanism of the threading by screwing a screw in the ice cream. It worked pretty well but there was a problem that while I pulled the screw back, some ice cream got stuck on the outside because of the tightly packed threading. Therefore, the distance between the threading will also have to kept in mind while improving the concepts.

Moving forward with the improvisation of the concepts, I decided to work in two directions — CONCEPT-1 and CONCEPT-4. One scenario is focused on redesigning the scoop whereas the other scenario demands an attachment to the existing scoop.

EXPLORATIONS OF CONCEPT-4

Form Exploration

The added part had to be trimmed from one end otherwise the handle would interfere while placing it. I’m yet to work on figuring out the threading part of it — the angle of the threading, the distance between the threads and how much of it is required.

After the form exploration of the concept, I tried to make a sketch model of the form. I used a balloon for making the form (green part) and attached it with the lip of the balloon (yellow part) to an existing scoop.

This helped me to understand the overall form of it and made me understand the distance for the strap with which I was initially struggling.

For studying the threading part of the screw, I looked at various diagrams that depicted how something is coiled on a spherical surface.

While keeping the distance between the threads in mind, the angle also is an important aspect to judge the force ease while inserting the scoop.

I decided not to coil the threads too compactly as a screw because ice cream would stick in the grooves making the cleaning difficult.

I finally came up with three iterations of the concept inspired by a winter headscarf, a biker’s helmet and ice cream topping with sprinkles. The first one was explored with the help of keyword mapping (Ice cream — Cold — Winters — Head Scarf), the second one was derived as a result of the first one and its form (Head Scarf — other head protection — Helmet — similar hemispherical form), and the third one related to the ice cream (Dripping — Melting — Topping — Garnishing).

I decided to explore in terms of existing forms because my target group is children which could help them relate to the form and learn better. (For instance, the scoop becomes cold while scooping ice cream and adding the newly designed part with resemblance of a headscarf can ensure that children do the same and wear a headscarf in winters to protect themselves from the cold).

While exploring the third iteration, I broke the continuous threading from a line to a dashed line, inspired by the matchbox’s phosphorus dotted strip, to see if more friction eases the process of rotational and linear movement while using the scoop. This dashed line would add to the aesthetics of the product as well, camouflaging with the sprinkles.

MATERIALS

  • Silicone:

I decided to use silicone as the base material because it displays viscoelasticity — viscosity and elasticity — and hence could be attached with ease. Its fitting will just be like how the lip of the balloon fixed itself to the scoop in the sketch model explored before. Another reason for choosing silicone was because of its non-porous characteristic. It doesn’t retain odours or colours and it is easier to wash or clean, and hence it is widely used in kitchen products and utensils.

  • Stainless Steel:

The threading part will be of stainless steel (as the screw) to ensure durability and strength and coated with colour to maintain the aesthetics of the product.

For a better understanding, I drew the orthographic view of the headscarf concept. The other two will have similar views with a difference in their forms.

Orthographic View

After drawing the orthographic view, I noticed that the hollow section resembles a smiling lip which can add to the sales of the product if manufactured. Smile, there is nothing ice cream can’t resolve!

I tried to make a software model and render it. It was my first attempt with Autodesk Fusion 360 but tutorials helped me throughout the process.

Inspired by winter headscarf
Inspired by ice cream topping with sprinkles

I also tried to place the rendered part (attachment) with the product (ice cream scoop) to see its overall preview and to see how it would be attached.

This was my first design project and I have gained a lot from the course. Initially, when I started, I had a totally different direction from what conclusion I have arrived at. Constraints were a very good way to filter out my research and ideas and they also guided me to not leave any information because that might affect the final result. Also questioning at every stage helped me a lot to expand my ideas and I realized that ideating on paper is much more powerful than just thinking because I could explore and derive more from it. The main takeaway was to research and explore till we find a logical conclusion that satisfies most of the needs.

When we start anything with confusion, we feel we have no direction but actually, confusion opens doors for multiple insights which ultimately help us move further. Another takeaway was that confusion taken forward in the right direction can lead to a logical solution.

Simple products may look simple but have minute complexities within them and not overlooking them can help us understand the journey of a product better. Even changing the smallest detail like changing colour or even an edge from a sharp one to a rounded one can solve issues for many users. And the most difficult part for me was to design keeping in mind who the user was, which encouraged me to do a lot of research but as it is said ‘Designing for children is not a child's play’.

Industrial Design Student, National Institute of Design, Andhra Pradesh

Industrial Design Student, National Institute of Design, Andhra Pradesh