First, there were enormous blocks of ice cut from freshwater lakes, hauled away by burly men armed with huge tongs, and stored until summer in sawdust-filled icehouses, before finally being delivered to the home icebox when the iceman cometh. Then, the invention of the electric refrigerator empowered homeowners with personal ice cube-making capability, thanks to frosty metal ice cube trays with lift bars and then twistable plastic versions.
Now, a new frontier in drink-chilling technology has been reached. Finally, Americans can achieve their dream of making spherical ice cubes in the comfort of their own homes.
What’s that, you say? Spherical ice cubes are mere frippery, and by definition cannot be called a “cube” at all? Fine, call them “ice balls” if you must — but don’t minimize the aesthetic and practical value of having a smooth, round, blissfully chilling globes of ice floating in a properly made adult beverage. Because icy orbs are a lot more fun than everyday ice cubes, and they have the added advantage of being far too big to chew. And whether you are someone who loathes the sound of people crunching away on ice pellets, or you are an unreformed chomper who simply can’t resist temptation, any development that prevents ice-munching and closes that alleged window to your innermost frustrations is a good thing.
Plus, the technology is pretty cool. The Tovolo ice sphere molds consist of a plastic cup that forms the bottom half of the sphere and a rubber insert that forms the top half. You fill the plastic part with water, put the rubber top on — which causes excess water to fountain out of the center hole — and then place the mold into the freezer. After a decent interval you remove the mold, twist off the rubber top, and pop out a perfectly round ball of ice. It not only looks good, the one-at-a-time preparation method makes you feel like an ice sphere artisan as you slowly build your supply for your upcoming social event.
I am glad that I lived to see the human race reach this height, but I wonder: What’s next for ice cube technology? Are there any remaining ice-making Everests to be climbed?