My Ice Cream Maker Just Became TikTok Famous
Back in 2021, Ninja, maker of cookware and kitchen appliances, sent me a sample device to test out in my kitchen. It’s called the Ninja Creami and it currently retails for $219 on Amazon. This ice cream maker has been around for a while now, but unbeknownst to me, its popularity has recently exploded. Why? Because it’s trending on TikTok, of course.
Multiple outlets including PopSugar are reporting that retailers have been selling out of their Ninja Creami stock, a rather remarkable feat for a piece of kitchen equipment that’s been on the market for years. It just goes to show what a force of commerce TikTok trends can be—a phenomenon we’ve seen before with feta cheese. But just what is this thing, and why is it so popular now?
What is the Ninja Creami ice cream maker?
The Ninja Creami is a home ice cream maker capable of making ice creams, gelatos, and sorbets. It’s an unusual model, because it flips the order of operations you find with traditional homemade ice cream.
Traditionally, an ice cream maker works like this: You put your liquid ice cream base into the appliance’s freezer bowl (the bowl has been frozen solid in advance of this step). Working in tandem with the cold temperature of the bowl, the ice cream maker slowly turns the liquid base into solid ice cream, using a paddle to churn air into the mixture and break up any watery ice crystals so that the resulting texture is smooth and creamy.
The Ninja Creami works the opposite way: You put your liquid ice cream base into the Creami’s proprietary pint container, then freeze the mixture until it is completely solid. When you place the container and its solid block in the Creami device, a drill-like component finely shaves the frozen block into a luscious pint of ice cream.
In this way, the Creami functions more like a high-end restaurant ice cream maker called a Pacojet, which shaves solid blocks into unbelievably smooth ice cream. Pacojet appliances, however, can cost $6,500 and up, and they’re not for home kitchens. At retail, the Ninja Creami costs between $200 and $250.
Is the Ninja Creami a good ice cream maker?
I enjoy using my Creami, because it produces desserts with consistent quality, but you do have to mess around with it a bit to get the best results.
Ninja’s recommended ice cream base uses cream cheese instead of eggs—a trick that lets home cooks skip the fussy step where egg yolks must be tempered—and that gives the resulting ice cream a little bit of a fun chew to it, due to the stabilizers in the cream cheese. It’s interesting to note that popular ice cream manufacturers sometimes opt for this style of base too. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which we love, makes use of an eggless cream cheese recipe both in scoop shops and in the brand’s official cookbook.
The ice cream that comes out of the Ninja Creami isn’t always as smooth as I’d like it to be, but the machine appears to have accounted for that: There’s a re-spin button that lets you churn the mixture again briefly to improve its texture. There’s also a function that lets you mix in stuff like cookies and chocolate; the crappy part is that the process will generally pulverize any bigger bits, meaning you won’t necessarily get big chunks in your final scoop. This can lead to a somewhat gritty spoonful of ice cream.
Some people complain that the machine is noisy. Yes, it is pretty noisy, but my Vitamix blender is way noisier—the cats hide when I blend stuff, but not when I run the Creami. The churning process only takes a few minutes, which is nice. This thing is drilling a solid block of frozen cream, folks, so maybe cut it some slack.
Certain reviewers of the Creami also take issue with the fact that freezing your ice cream base for at least 24 hours doesn’t allow for instant gratification. For my part, I’ve never once minded this. It’s barely any work to make your own ice cream base; you just need to heat up a pan of cream on the stove, whisk the ingredients together, and you’re done. All the detachable parts of the Creami are dishwasher safe. Waiting a day to turn the mixture into ice cream isn’t a chore. If anything, it gives you the ability to prep the base in advance and be rewarded with “instant” ice cream a day or two down the line.
I don’t think I’d pay for the Creami at the usual retail price, but certain models go on sale occasionally (like right now), so you can sometimes catch it at a lower cost. It’s so easy to use that I’d happily recommend it if you have the cash. Otherwise, we’ve got a great guide to ice cream makers and which one might be best for you.
Why is the Ninja Creami trending on TikTok?
So the curious part to me is why the Creami is all over TikTok right now, long after its initial release. It turns out that people have been using the Creami to make all sorts of concoctions, like high-protein ice cream, sorbets, and more, and the videos have taken on somewhat of a snowball effect.
One common thread I’m noticing to all the Ninja ice cream videos is that TikTok users really like the appliance’s ease of use—you can throw in stuff like canned fruit or candy pieces, and just one additional ingredient can create a novel frozen treat. Plus, TikTok users have a habit of dredging up long established phenomena and reacting to it with an incredulous sense of “discovery,” whipping up a sense of excitement around something that’s not really all that new. Once something catches, it really resonates on that platform.
It doesn’t hurt that the Ninja Creami is a telegenic appliance, delivering visually satisfying results that leave us agape with childlike wonder. A visual medium like TikTok makes it fun to watch a frozen pint of ice cream base being shaved into an instantaneous, luscious dessert, and its gravelly noise can simply be edited out.
Just as some people enjoy ASMR videos (which gross me out), a Ninja Creami TikTok scratches a weird itch we might not even have known we had. For anyone who knows firsthand how hypnotic home shopping television can be, the pull of these demo videos starts to make a lot more sense.
In the end, it’s still just an ice cream maker, and this is all just a passing trend. It’ll go away someday. It’s just funny to think that the ice cream maker I’ve long stored on my equipment shelf, the one collecting dust throughout the long Midwestern winter, has suddenly become the hottest item on the market. Why weren’t you all banging down my door years ago telling me how cool and trendy I am?
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