Dippin’ Dots are one of those foods that I just assumed no longer exist, preserved solely in my memories of purchasing a cupful on each middle-school field trip to the amusement park or zoo. Until recently I could no longer recall what they tasted like, except sublime — these flash-frozen spheres, colorful and tiny, like something straight from our liquid nitrogen-encased future.
It was serendipity that brought the dots back into my life, in the form of a shop tucked away in the touristic fisherman’s wharf of Monterey, which I recently passed through. A whole shop, just for Dippin’ Dots! Devoid of any other customers, staffed by two bored-looking teenagers, accessed by way of signs haphazardly displayed throughout a warren of retail outlets, the store seemed more like what people online like to call a liminal space than an actual place of business. After a few moments of fretting over the display case (no free samples allowed), I forked over $7.50 for a medium-sized cup of cookies ‘n’ cream. The Oreo chunks, big and clumsily crushed as they were, eclipsed the dots. The ice cream tasted like, well, mediocre vanilla ice cream. It began to melt under the California sun, transforming distinctive globules — the confection’s defining characteristic — into pools of runny glop. Ultimately, it was an okay dessert, as even the poorest ice cream is. But I almost wish that I had never stumbled upon the shop; that I had left Dippin’ Dots in the past where they belonged, exquisite and crystalline from the eyes of a child. 3/5 stars.