Jack Hur’s ice cream shop, Rollipop Rolled Ice Cream, isn’t quite like anything else in Iowa City, and that’s exactly how he likes it.
“I myself cannot eat too much sweet vanilla or chocolate ice cream they sell off the shelves,” he said. “This ice cream is lighter, less sweet than regular ice cream.”
That’s just the start of what makes Rollipop a novel treat. At the shop at the Iowa City Marketplace (formerly the Sycamore Mall), each made-to-order treat starts with liquid ice cream base which is poured onto a plate chilled to -12 to -18 degrees. As it solidifies, employees mash it with other ingredients, such as fresh fruit, then smooth it out flat before rolling into tight spirals of ice cream. Then toppings like more fruit, cookies or whipped cream are piled on the ice cream rolls as a finishing touch.
There is an art to it that goes beyond the final unique presentation.
“If we don’t mash it up fairly well, the flavor will all be on one side of the ice cream. And it will literally crack if we don’t mash it up properly,” Hur said. “There’s a science to it.”
The whole process takes a couple of minutes. On a recent afternoon, children watched, rapt, as Rollipop employees assembled their desserts. Charles Engler, 6, of Iowa City, gave his Cookie Monster, made with Oreos and chocolate syrup, a thumbs up.
“It’s cool,” he said before diving in.
“We love to watch them make stuff,” his mom Brooke Engler said. “They’ve been asking to come here since seeing a video of it on Facebook a few days ago.”
That’s exactly the reaction Hur is going for.
“I wanted people to experience this kind of ice cream, a new concept of ice cream, with entertainment and taste at the same time,” he said.
Rolled ice cream originated in Thailand and has slowly been growing in popularity in the United States in recent years, starting along the coasts. Hur didn’t see it in Eastern Iowa and decided to bring the idea here.
The shop’s menu features 10 combinations plus toppings. Customers pick an item like Mango Tango, made with mango, strawberry and condensed milk, or Monkey Business, made with banana and Nutella, and then add up to three toppings.
“I’m personally a matcha and coffee person. My favorites are Matcha Madness (matcha powder, Oreo, Nutella) and Caramelicious (coffee, Biscoff cookie, caramel syrup),” Hur said. “We get cold brew coffee from Lucky’s Market, and blend it into the base.”
The frozen desserts shop opened Jan. 11, but the winter weather hasn’t been a deterrent. On some Saturdays, lines have stretched through the mall hallway outside Rollipop’s doors.
“The first day we were open there was icy rain, but thankfully people still came that day,” Hur said.
He is already thinking about the future and is considering a second location for Rollipop in Cedar Rapids. He wasn’t ready to reveal where, but said he hopes to open this summer.
“It was my dream to open a business, and I personally like ice cream,” he said. “Don’t all people have a dream of becoming an owner of an ice cream store?”
l Comments: (319) 398-8339; firstname.lastname@example.org
l What: Rollipop Rolled Ice Cream
l Where: 1608 Sycamore St., Iowa City
l Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday
l Details: (319) 569-1019, facebook.com/rollipoprolledicecream