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Ice cream scoopers come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Some scoopers are designed for use with specific hands — right or left —, while others feature an ambidextrous design. Scoopers are made of a variety of materials, including aluminum, stainless steel and plastic. They are also available to scoop up a specific amount of ice cream at a time, from a very small to a very large amount. In addition to mounds of ice cream, scoops are also used to dish up cone, oval and heart-shaped ice cream.
The first lever-type ice cream scoop was patented in the late 1800s, and it allowed ice cream to be scooped and released using only one hand. Early scoops often featured a number signifying the amount of scoops per quart, and sizes typically ranged from six to 24. As the typical round ice cream scooper evolved, more shapes were introduced. Early novelty ice cream scoopers featured rectangular, cone-shaped and plunge-type scoopers. A squarish, box-style ice cream scooper came about in the late 1920s that scooped ice cream into a sandwich pocket cone.
Materials used to make ice cream scoopers include aluminum, brass and stainless steel. Some scoopers have a solid, one-piece design, while others are squeeze-type, spring-released models or feature a thumb lever. The scoops' handles are often made of metal or plastic, or a combination of the two. To create certain shapes, special ice cream scoopers are available. An oval ice cream dipper made of brass creates oval-shaped ice cream balls, and a heart-shaped ice cream disher made of stainless steel creates heart-shaped ice cream.
Ice cream scoopers with a cog and ratchet mechanism feature a spring-loaded, wire scraper that can be triggered to sweep across the inside of the bowl of the scooper. A cylindrical scooper is used by pushing it into slightly softened ice cream, then a push of a plunger ejects a cylinder-shaped ice cream scoop. The scoops can be stacked or even sliced to use for making ice cream sandwiches.
Modern versions of ice cream scoopers include electric models featuring a stainless steel, heated scoop with a nonstick coating. A modern plastic ice cream scooper features a press-out bottom that makes it easy to release the ice cream from the scoop. A model of an anti-freeze scoop that came about in the 1930s is still sold. It features a self-defrosting liquid that is sealed into the handle the makes scooping less strenuous.
I like the ice cream spades, myself. They're easier for me to use, and you get a broader scoop with them. Some people don't like them at all, but I really do. I think the spade gets into the ice cream better, especially when it's really frozen hard.
Some spades have the antifreeze stuff inside, too, like the scoops, although, like Scrbblchick said, if the spade is metal, I'll run it under hot water to warm the metal up and make it easier to get into the ice cream. The spades are probably not as multi-tasking as the scoops are, but I still like them.
I like the anti freeze scoops. They make life a lot easier. At least, I'd rather have a metal scoop that I can run under hot water, so the hot metal will cut through the ice cream more easily.
I also like a handle that isn't too big around for me to hold comfortably. I have small hands, so I don't like really big handles. I like to have a smaller handle so I can get a better grip on the scoop.
The spring release scoops are nice, but I really like them more for scooping cookie dough or biscuit dough for consistent sizing than for scooping ice cream. I'd rather have the kind with the anti-freeze in the handle.
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