The Ice Cream Scoop

Edible Cleveland’s summer issue typically comes out during the second week of June, which means that by the time you’re reading this, you will probably already have savored more than a few first-of-summer ice cream cones.

Our city certainly has more than its fair share of locally made frozen treats and quaint settings in which to enjoy them. Or maybe you’ve scooped your own? Do you have one of the magical scoops with the mystery liquid inside the handle? The one that lets you glide effortlessly and painlessly through your chosen flavors with nary a thought about the strain on your wrist? If you do, take a look at the handle and see if the name Zeroll is embossed there.

Though there are now many imitators, the Zeroll scoop was invented right here in Ohio by inventor and engineer Sherman Kelly in the 1930s. The story goes that Mr. Kelly noticed the eff ort required to push through the hard-packed ice cream and the resulting blisters on the server’s hand while in Florida in 1933, and realized that a sweet opportunity lay before him. He was granted a patent for his design soon after.

Kelly worked out of his Toledo garage, along with his wife, Hazel, developing various prototypes until he sussed out all of the variables—thickness of the aluminum, the formula for the liquid inside the handle (which still remains a secret), and the shape of the scoop. Ensconced inside its aluminum shell, the mystery liquid transfers the warmth from the hand holding it to the metal of the scoop, thereby easing the way through the frozen ice cream.

And the deceptively simple design of the Zeroll scoop hasn’t gone unnoticed by the art world. You can find it in the Museum of Modern Art’s Permanent Design Collection in New York.