The Origin Story and Rapid Growth of Ice Cream Favorite Cold Stone Creamery

The Origin Story and Rapid Growth of Ice Cream Favorite Cold Stone Creamery
Table Of Content

The Origins of Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery opened its first ice cream shop in Tempe, Arizona in 1988. Founders Donald and Susan Sutherland were aiming to create an interactive ice cream experience where customers could customize their orders by adding mix-ins like candy, cookies, and fruits. The name Cold Stone comes from the frozen granite stone used to mix blended ice cream creations. The unique cold serving process helps create ice cream with less air, making Cold Stone's ice cream richer and creamier.

Cold Stone's Signature Ice Cream Style

What sets Cold Stone apart from other ice cream shops is their signature style. Customers can choose from a variety of pre-made cake and ice cream combinations or create their own custom creation by selecting ice cream flavors and mix-in ingredients. Some of Cold Stone's most popular Signature Creations include:

  • Cookie Doughn't You Want Some - Sweet Cream ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough and fudge
  • Berry Berry Good - Sweet Cream ice cream with fresh strawberries and graham cracker pie crust
  • Founder's Favorite - Sweet Cream ice cream with brown sugar, pecans, and fudge

The ingredients are mixed into the chilled ice cream right on a frozen granite stone to perfectly incorporate all the components.

Beyond Ice Cream - Shakes, Cakes, and More

Cold Stone also offers ice cream cakes, shakes, smoothies, and other frozen treats made with their signature ice cream. Some customer favorites include:

  • Ice Cream Cakes - Fully customizable cakes with ice cream layers and icing
  • All Natural Real Ice Cream Smoothies - Blended fruit and ice cream smoothies
  • Crave Cookies - Freshly baked chocolate chunk, sugar, or oatmeal raisin cookies
  • Sweet Cream Soft Serve - A lighter, creamier soft serve option

The Rapid Growth of Cold Stone

After the first Cold Stone Creamery opened in Tempe, the concept quickly took off through franchising. By 1995, Cold Stone had 10 locations in Arizona and California. As the word spread about Cold Stone's tasty customized creations, expansion accelerated rapidly.

Becoming a Household Name

In the early 2000s, Cold Stone was one of the fastest growing franchise businesses around. They hit 100 stores by 2001, 500 stores by 2003, and 1,000 stores by 2006, expanding throughout the United States. Creative promotions like creating ice cream flavors inspired by the "American Idol" TV show helped drive brand awareness and attract customers.

International growth in markets like South Korea, Mexico, and Singapore also brought Cold Stone global recognition. Appearances on shows like NBC's "The Apprentice" and endorsement deals featuring star athletes like Yankee Alex Rodriguez cemented Cold Stone's status as a pop culture icon.

Recent Innovations

Today Cold Stone has over 1,500 locations worldwide. While domestic growth has slowed compared to the early 2000s boom, the company continues rolling out new innovations to deliver on their promise of delivering the Ultimate Ice Cream ExperienceTM.

Some highlights over the past few years include:

  • Introducing lower calorie, non-dairy, and no sugar added options
  • Launching online ordering and delivery
  • Testing new store concepts like ice cream trucks and self-serve kiosks

The mix of fun, creative flavors and providing customers a personalized, interactive ice cream experience in stores continues to drive Cold Stone's enduring popularity after over 30 years in business.


How did Cold Stone Creamery get its name?

The name Cold Stone comes from the frozen granite stone the company uses to incorporate mix-in ingredients into their ice cream. The cold serving process helps minimize ice crystals, creating a richer, creamier texture.

What makes Cold Stone Creamery ice cream unique?

Cold Stone is known for their signature style of allowing customers to customize ice cream creations by choosing flavors, mix-ins, and sauces. The ingredients are mixed right on a frozen granite stone, resulting in ice cream with less air and maximum flavor.

Does Cold Stone Creamery offer non-dairy or low-calorie options?

Yes, Cold Stone now offers non-dairy, lower calorie, and no sugar added flavors alongside their regular ice cream. They strive to deliver options for almost any diet or food preference.

How many Cold Stone Creamery locations are there worldwide?

Currently Cold Stone Creamery has over 1,500 stores globally after rapid expansion as a top ice cream franchise. They have locations throughout the United States and in over 30 international countries.

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