While most people tend to ignore the ice that is served in their drinks and the ice used to keep food items fresh at the grocery store, a significant number of consumers crave- and even demand- a specific type of ice from Scotsman called Nugget Ice. Scotsman came up with the original Nugget in 1981. Their goal was to provide the healthcare industry with an alternative to the standard shaved ice (now known as flake ice). Soon after, people in hospitals began to rave about the nugget ice, and it wasn’t look before restaurants took note and began offering nugget ice in select beverages.
Everybody who loves nugget ice knows that it is softer and easier to chew than most other kinds of ice. Usually, when a consumer has finished their beverage, large, hard ice cubes remain in the glass or cup. Many people cannot resist chewing that ice, but it offers much less satisfaction than nugget ice. The reasons people chew ice are varied. Some people chew ice simply for the satisfaction of chewing ice. Some ice chewing can even be controversial (addiction to ice chewing even has an official medical name: pagophagia), but with nugget ice chewers, people chew ice because these nuggets have the ability to absorb and retain some of the liquid of the beverage they once enjoyed. Hard ice cubes are not always the best for chewing. That makes Scotsman’s nugget a relief to consumers who like are tired of hard, crunching ice cubes.
Besides meeting the cravings of customers, there are several other benefits of having Scotsman nugget ice rather than other types of ice for your business. Scotsman’s nuggets for example, are smaller in size so ice can fit in any given container. More ice means higher liquid displacement in a glass or cup, which lowers your cost on beverages per sale. There are many small cube and crescent ice makers available in the industry, with medium to high liquid displacement, but Scotsman’s nugget ice has a the highest liquid displacement of all providing a nice benefit for your business.
Still, other ice types simply can’t compete with the feature for which nugget ice is most known. The process of molding the nuggets includes tiny spaces in the ice where a beverage can be absorbed, allowing the nugget to carry the flavor of the beverage it is in. So when the drink is gone your customers who love to chew ice are now able to chomp away on the nuggets, and they will receive a pleasant surprise with the taste of their beverage, and also satisfy their ice chewing cravings.
The nuggets also cool drinks more rapidly than other ice types because nuggets are composed not only of ice, but also a bit of very cold water. Nugget ice is approximately 80% ice and 20% water. For this reason, nuggets are considered a “wetter” ice. Now when the nuggets share a glass with a beverage, the liquid’s temperature immediately starts to break down the nugget, releasing the cold water from the ice. The cold water disperses more quickly throughout the beverage, lowering the temperature more evenly and smoothly. Other typically harder ice cubes have to change from frozen water to cold water before it can spread through the beverage to lower its temperature.
So what is the secret to Scotsman’s nugget ice, its softness, its flavor absorption, and the rapid cooling? The secret of the nugget is the way it is made. Nugget ice starts out in a vertical auger evaporator cylinder of the ice machine. Cold water is run through the evaporator cylinder and begins to freeze on the inner wall. The rotating auger blades then cut and scrape the slushy flake ice that is building up and simultaneously transport that ice upwards through the cylinder. The ice reaches the top opening of the auger cylinder and is forced out by the presence of more ice moving up from below by the rotating auger blades. This is where the “nugget magic” happens. Normally, that ice would just fall from the top of the auger as loose, slightly wet ice clumps of various sizes, and would resemble flaked ice, Scotsman places a head-cap like device over the top of the auger that restricts the exit of the wet flaked ice. The head has smaller openings of a certain size placed at various points so the ice flakes are pushed through by the ice behind it. The narrow openings essentially compress the flakes together, forming discrete, soft ice nuggets that tumble into the ice bin below. The ice nuggets retain their shape but are easily broken down by chewing without damaging teeth.
Ultimately, Scotsman’s nugget ice has become more than just a type of ice. Nugget ice has a huge following, and Scotsman has gladly provided online social media for the fans to connect to their favorite ice.
For some fans, Scotsman Nugget ice – the “nug” – is the only ice. At Ice Machines Plus, we have a great selection if you’re looking for Scotsman nugget ice maker heads or countertop nugget ice makers. These include the MDT5N40A- a countertop nugget ice maker and dispenser, and nugget producing heads, like the Scotsman N1322A-32A, which can produce over 1,000 pounds of nugget ice per day! Consider a nugget ice maker for your business, and start reaping the benefits of nugget ice.