If you've been scrolling through your Instagram Discover page recently, a never-before-seen ice cream creation may have jumped off your screen. The Hot As Hell from Drill'd Ice Cream Mixmasters, a new shop in Orange County, CA, contains vanilla ice cream mixed with Hot Cheetos and topped with even more crushed Hot Cheetos. Even if you count yourself as a member of the cheesy, spicy snack's cult following, adding Hot Cheetos to ice cream still seems pretty outrageous. So, we talked to one of the Drill'd founders, Steve Kim, to see how he and his business partner, Eugene Inose, came up with this weird, Instagram-worthy treat.
The idea for the Hot Cheetos-infused special, which has been bringing in a lot of attention for the shop, didn't come about until close to Drill'd's official opening, during R&D (research and development). Kim explained that he and Inose were brainstorming ways to differentiate their business, so Inose suggested they try putting the iconic snack food, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, into ice cream. At first, Kim thought the suggestion was too "whacko." True, they had seen Hot Cheetos used as ingredients in trendy savory dishes like macaroni and cheese, but he wasn't sure it would work in a sweet treat. Still, Kim took the idea to his test kitchen and found that it did work, "I tried it for the first time, and my taste buds were just so confused in a very good way," he told Refinery29.
Kim, who is Korean-American, said the spicy-sweet flavor combination is something he's familiar with from Korean food. Because of that, he "took a huge liking to it right away." The Drill'd founder was also sure to note that chasing your spicy foods with diary is a natural practice, so the cool ice cream really goes hand-in-hand with the Hot Cheetos. "That's the thing that's unique about it. You're already taking in dairy to soothe the heat, but the heat is still poking at you here and there," he said. The secret to making sure the heat still "hits you in the back of the throat," as Kim describes it, is using XXTRA Flamin' Hot Cheetos (the Cheetos with the black label).
Even if you're not totally convinced that Hot Cheetos ice cream is for you, Drill'd has additional draws, particularly for Instagram-happy customers. The concept behind how the ice cream is made is the basis for the business. To make their ice cream creations, the duo brought in auger machines (or "mix masters") to their retail space. The augers act as giant drills that crush mix-ins like Oreos, Froot Loops, and of course, Hot Cheetos and infuse them directly into the ice cream base. The drilling is done in a clear plastic cone-shaped vessel so customers can watch their personalized ice cream flavor being mixed — and maybe snap a Boomerang from the other side of a counter.
The Hot As Hell is joined by other auger-mixed treats that are sure to pop off on social media as well. Kim recommended the B. Splitz, a take on the classic banana split, made with Cocoa Puffs and crushed pineapple. Or, if you've ever dipped your fries in vanilla soft serve, he says the Lay'Over, made with Lays potato chips, is also worth a try. Kim and Inose also plan to switch up the menu every so often with new mix-ins that will keep customers coming back. What can we expect next? Another ingredient with a cult-following: avocado.