Novelty equipment getting faster and more sophisticated

Frozen novelties represent one of the fastest growing segments in the dairy category. Why? Part of the reason is that the frozen novelty is a natural convenience food. You can eat it with one hand while strolling through the park or sitting in front of the tube, and when you're done, just toss the stick and wrapper in the trash. Nothing to wash!

And novelties aren't what they used to be. The shapes, colors, and flavors have a nearly endless variety, and they can even have inclusions. Then there's the spiffy new packaging and cone options, and improved marketing through a variety of channels.

So with novelties growing so quickly, it's important that the equipment keeps pace, and it has.

Manufacturers are offering more extrusion machines, and colder filling machines that run at heavier viscosity, allowing for a creamier mouthfeel for premium products. They are offering machines that can add visually attractive swirls and layers. And they are offering machines, which can keep pace to the tune of more than 30,000 pieces an hour.

"The biggest changes really are that you can run big inclusion into molded products and you can fill it at colder temperatures so it will have the mouthfeel or texture closer to extruded products," says Gustav Korsholm, managing dir. of Tetra Pak Processing Systems, Lake Geneva, Wis. "Just now we are seeing this in novelties. The fruit bars were the beginning of that but it is now getting into ice cream."

Getting those big chunks of candy, brownies or nuts into a stick novelty presents quite a technical challenge.

"The biggest challenge is really the distribution across the rows in a machine filling a much more viscous products and having the even distribution of the ingredients," Korsholm says. "You can't have ingredients in some of the molds but not in others."

As with all dairy equipment, today's models require less maintenance and downtime and allow for longer runs. Fast changeover is the mantra in dairy equipment, and novelty equipment manufacturers subscribe.

Hoyer's Profill line is designed to allow colorful swirls and inclusions in either bottom-up or top-down filling applications. It can produce patterns in one or two colors for water ice and ice cream novelties. It can be used with high overrun product, and offers precision dosing for inclusions. Its modular design allows for fast changeover and it can be designed with it's own controls as a stand-alone system or it can be integrated to existing system like the Hoyer Rollo or other stick novelty freezers.

Norse Dairy Systems, Columbus, Ohio, specializes in ice cream novelty ingredients and equipment. Well known for it's innovative line of edible cones, Norse also offers innovative equipment for manufacturing and packaging novelties. Norse offers versatile machines like the VL-II in-line filler that is capable of filling sleeved cones, plastic cups, foam cups, and specialty items in sizes ranging from 1 to 12 oz.

WCB Ice Cream, Philadelphia, also offers a full line of ice cream novelty equipment, including the LIFE (Large Inclusion Former Extruder) system which allows for the use of big chunky chocolate chips and the like.

Featuring high production volume, low cost and easy changeover, several cryogenic processes offer ice cream producers a more opportunities for 3-D novelties. WCB's Cryo-ZAT is a cryogenic ice cream molding process based on Zero Adhesion Technology, and is a joint development by WCB Ice Cream and Air Products. Cryo-ZAT offers ice cream manufacturers the ability to make premium ice cream products in high definition 3-D shapes.