We Tried the Trendy Rolled Ice Cream People Are Waiting Hours for

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The creation hereby known as “Strawberry Shawty.” (Photo: Samantha Bolton for Yahoo Food)

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We arrived at the ice cream shop around 11 a.m. on Friday morning. Typically, it’s not all that socially acceptable to eat the frozen treat before noon, but we wanted to dodge the evening line. And hey, TGIF right? Plus, we were on a crucial ice cream mission, and we couldn’t leave until it was fulfilled.

You see, about a week before, I had noticed a trend popping up on foodie Instagram feeds everywhere — rolled up ice cream spirals. Ice cream spirals, you say? I know, I was confused, too. What is this and where is it coming from? And why the heck as everyone else heard about it but me?? These thoughts plagued my every waking moment. So, in an attempt to cure my serious case of food FOMO, I found myself on a morning ice cream hunt through Chinatown.

When we got to 10Below, the uber-popular, brand-new shop responsible for these ubiquitous ice cream rolls — which just opened on July 17 — it was surprisingly low-key. I had heard horror tales of the epic hour-long line that awaited most people who wanted a taste of the trend, but apparently not everyone wants to eat ice cream in the morning. Psh, amateurs.


A crazy crowd eager to get their rolled ice cream Insta on. (Photo: 10Below)

Founded by brothers Wilson and Richard Tam and partner David Chen, 10Below is the first New York City creamery to serve these unique, Thai-inspired ice cream rolls. Drawing inspiration from the fresh, made-to-order ice cream available on the streets of Thailand, 10Below’s creations are individually made in front of customer’s eyes with only the most essential ingredients — meaning no preservatives or stabilizers. “It’s ice cream in its rawest form,” their website proclaims.

More: 10 Insanely Creative Ice Cream Sandwiches We’re Dying to Try

The shop itself, tucked away below ground on Mott Street in Manhattan, was fairly quiet. The only customers a few teenaged girls making flirty eyes at the team of young, male ice cream makers. Sam, photo editor extraordinaire/my ice cream partner-in-crime, and I seized the no-line opportunity and ordered three flavors for the two of us. We decided on “Honey Boo Boo” with blueberry, raspberry, and honey; “Strawberry Shawty” with strawberry, banana, graham crackers, and condensed milk; and S’mores Galore, because National S’mores Day was coming up (not that s’mores aren’t always a good idea).


The S’mores Galore in action. (Photo: 10Below)

Once you order, the process of converting liquid cream into the ice cream rolls takes a few minutes, which might account for the legendary wait during peak ice cream hours. By this point, I had seen this process repeated approximately 4,000 times on people’s Instagram feeds and Snapchat stories, but it was still fun to see IRL. To create the rolls, cream and its accompanying ingredients are poured onto a cold plate — closely resembling a crepe-making station — that reaches below -10°F. Then science comes in to play, as the ice cream produced “smaller ice molecules to make it naturally smoother and creamier, eliminating the need to add in additional fat and emulsifiers.” At that point, however, we were less concerned with science jargon and more with what toppings we were going to pick, a pivotal moment in any ice cream lover’s life.

More: 9 Frozen Desserts to Eat While It’s Still Hot Out

After the cream had become solid and the toppings were added in, the frozen mixture was flattened into a thin layer along a plate. The guy crafting our rolls pressed a button on the bottom of the plate, releasing a loud, mechanic hiss. “Ooh, what did that do?” I asked excitedly, thinking it would be something fancy like a hit of liquid nitrogen or something.

“It thaws it,” he responded glibly, probably answering that question for the thousandth time. He then used a metal scraper to carve out the tendrils, one frozen ribbon at a time. Those were then thrown in a cup and topped with additional toppings.


Money shot! (Photo: Samantha Bolton for Yahoo Food)

After heading outside to snap some pics — we obviously take our ice cream research, and Instagrams, very seriously — we got to the important task of tasting. Unable to find a makeshift table, we crouched on the side of an alley while passing back and forth the bowls. By that point, the S’Mores Galore had mostly melted into a kind of chocolate-marshmallow gazpacho. I wasn’t mad about it.

The top lessons learned from our 10Below adventure:

1. If you triple-fist ice cream in the morning on a crowded street, passersby WILL judge you; be prepared.

2. Rolled ice cream pretty much just tastes like normal ice cream. Pretty good ice cream, in fact, but normal nonetheless.

3. Our favorite was Strawberry Shawty, though we weren’t completely sold on the idea of waiting over an hour for it.

4. The sweetest part of being a grown-up is totally getting to eat ice cream at any time you want — rolled, or not.

More from Yahoo Food’s Ice Cream Week:

How Much Does America Love Ice Cream? We Have the Scoop

Canine-Friendly Ice Creams For the Dog Days of Summer

This State Is More Obsessed With Ice Cream Than All the Rest