Izzy's Ice Cream Uses RFID Technology to Tell You the Flavors

The words, “Ground-breaking Technology!” screamed out, in large, bold type, from the headline of an e-mailed press release I received last week. It made me wonder: What technological achievement was being heralded now? Was it one of those inventions that I would have invented myself if only I had learned how to write code? Like an iPhone that actually works as a phone? Or a content management system that writes 500-word blog posts? Or an “un-send” feature for the e-mails I shouldn't have written when I was so angry. (Or so tipsy.) No, no, and no. This was for something way, way better. Read for yourself:

"St Paul – May 20, 2010 –A moment more than one year in the making, Izzy’s Ice Cream is proud to announce the launch of an exciting, new service, Izzy’s Flavor Up!, that allows customers to subscribe to their favorite Izzy’s Ice Cream flavors."

It continues:

"Izzy’s Ice Cream will now be tagging their flavors of ice cream with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Every flavor of Izzy’s Ice Cream – all 90+ of them – is tagged with a unique code that is automatically scanned when placed in the dipping cabinet."

And then it elaborates:

"When new flavors are removed from or added to the dipping cabinet, Izzy’s Ice Cream’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts will automatically be updated, alerting fans to the latest changes. Customers can sign up for email alerts for their favorite flavors – so they’ll always know when their favorite Hot Brown Sugar, Soy Peanut Butter or Peace Coffee ice cream is available. In-store customers will also see this technology in action via LCD screen television and projector showcasing which flavors are being scooped."

So now I can know, before I go, if my favorite flavor, Salted Caramel, is in the freezer? Awesome. See? Way, way better than a reliably working iPhone, right?

Purported to be one of the first uses of RFID technology as a customer service application, Izzy’s Flavor Up was featured yesterday on Computer World’s web site.

Computer World reporter Jaikumar Vijayan wrote: “Businesses are using RFID tags to track everything from large shipping containers and livestock to tiny electronic components. It's unlikely, though, that any other business is using radio frequency identification technology for the same purpose as Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe... ”

I love this idea. It's the perfect union of left brain, right brain, and lizard brain: geeky gadgetry, interpersonal connections, and sensual pleasure. Perhaps it will inspire the next ground-breaking invention: an "un-eat" feature for the ice cream cones we shouldn't have eaten when we were so angry. (Or so tipsy.) If only I knew how to write code ...

Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe is located at 2034 Marshall Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota, 55104. It's open Monday through Thurday, 3 to 9:00 pm; Friday and Saturday, 1 to 10:00 pm; and Sun 1 to 9:00 pm.

Shari Manolas Danielson is editorial director at Simple, Good and Tasty. Her last piece for SGT was This Mother's Day, Tell Mom to Go to Her Room for Breakfast in Bed. You can write to her at