Here's an exercise: go into Cauldron Ice Cream and count how many people have phones in their hands. Some may be texting or on Facebook, but many are also taking Instagram and Snapchat photos of their Puffle--ice cream wrapped in a Hong Kong-style bubble waffle--against the white-tiled walls and retro decor. One search of the #puffle hashtag on Instagram is enough to realize the extent of Cauldron's photo ops. Over 10,000 posts show up--most of which are of this sweet concoction (and, yes, the white-tiled walls are there all the time).
Cronuts, the Milky Bun, and now the Puffle stand at the intersection of food and Instagram. Putting two unexpected foods together, giving it a name, and creating photo ops and a new experience seems to be the formula for breaking the Internet these days. At Cauldron Ice Cream, the Puffle received so much attention that the shop had to close for a week until August 31 to figure out how to make supply meet demand. Lines were getting long--2.5-hours long--and orders went from 100 a day to 2,000, according to their Facebook page. Reopened on September 1, it was still busy but lines only lasted 10 minutes. In other words, if you want a Puffle, get one now.
Every part of Cauldron Ice Cream's experience is designed for social media. Just upon entering, there's a pretty scene of three white liquid nitrogen machines enclosed with white smoke. The top half of the walls are covered with glossy white tiles and wood and copper-tinted wall decor. The ceiling is lined with hanging lights. Just as aesthetically pleasing is the Puffle, where one scoop of ice cream is held in a bubbly cone, resembling a flower.
"How the hell do we eat this?" my boyfriend remarked when we received our Puffle. The scoop of Earl Grey lavender ice cream was positioned awkwardly, hanging out against the vertical walls of the waffle. But we got the hang of it soon enough. Puffle-eating 101: use a spoon for the ice cream and pick out the bubbles with your hands as you eat it. Or, put the bubble on top of an ice-cream-filled spoon. Once you get through the ice cream, you're left with three or four bubbles to be eaten with melted ice cream, which at this point tastes like milk tea.
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I'll admit, I also have pictures of the Puffle against the white-tiled walls (as you can see from the photo above). But how could I not? The folks behind Cauldron Ice Cream know exactly what they're doing.
1421 W. MacArthur Blvd. Suite F, Santa Ana, CA 92704; cauldronicecream.com; Instagram: @cauldronicecream