Tour NYC's Museum of Ice Cream
There’s one thing I must know about anyone I meet: If they could jump into a pool filled with one food, what would it be?
Surely, the Museum of Ice Cream, New York’s latest attraction, turns this fantasy into a reality for more than a few with the creation of its much-hyped sprinkle pool. (We know what you’re thinking: No, they’re not real sprinkles.)
But sprinkles are only the beginning. Since tickets to the museum, which is open through the end of August, are already sold out, we’re here to give you a sneak-peek tour.
Right off the bat, you’re handed a cup of ice cream, which in this killer summer heat, is the most welcome gift you could ever receive. Flavors rotate and come from favorites like Blue Marble, McConnell’s, Morgenstern’s and more. Then you’re handed a made-to-order edible balloon filled with helium. In case you’ve never been to a birthday party before, someone stands at the ready to demonstrate just how to get that squeaky voice.
After a walk through a real-life Willy Wonka scene where there’s a bowl of Dove chocolates up for grabs (I took five; no one was watching), you head into the sprinkle room of Internet fame. You may be expecting something like a ball pit (I was), but it’s more of a Technicolor sandbox. There are beach balls, a diving board and someone constantly sweeping up rogue bits of plastic. (And I’m no germaphobe, but I’m glad I went before it opened to the public—30,000 strangers’ worth of feet is a lot for me, no matter the context.)
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You’re greeted at the last stop with a tiny miracle berry pill, which turns sour flavors sweet. This is the workings of food genius Irwin Adam for what he calls a “reimagined ice cream shop” experience. You wouldn’t usually see a lemon on top of Barbie-pink soft-serve, but that’s what you get here, and it works. Irwin wanted to go even weirder with the toppings—sour pickles, wheat bread—but settled on the lemon wheel.
Irwin, who has a PhD in biomedical engineering, is the person behind Future Food Studio in Toronto, as well as the ice cream balloons, which were inspired by Alinea’s Grant Achatz. The balloons are made of hot sugar and get elasticity from the way different types of sugars interact. In other words, trust the science. Irwin’s goal overall is for people to experiment with taste and flavor, making food more of an experience rather than something that just keeps you alive.
Ice cream lamps hang from the ceiling, scoops from decades past line the walls and you end the experience with a seesaw ride on a giant ice cream scoop. It’s all the perfect balance between trippy and novel, with plenty of mirrors throughout to ensure the optimal selfie, further proving that the place was made for social platforms like Instagram and Boomerang (guilty). But interspersed in the fun is learning, even if it’s not necessarily in the forefront. For example, who knew that sprinkles are called hagelslag in the Netherlands?
The ice cream-themed art, commissioned by some 20 artists (many of whom are friends of cofounder Maneesh Vora), makes the “museum” feel more real. As does the DJ-curated music (50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” is in heavy rotation) that Vora says is designed to “motivate you for ice cream.” Not that anyone needs more motivation than being handed a free cone, but playing in a sprinkle pool while “MMMBop” blasts doesn’t suck.
I’d be lying if I said I’m not still finding bits of faux sprinkles between my toes. But I’d also be lying if said I minded.
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