Who wants ice cream? The inside scoop on the Zeroll scooper.

Posted By on May 3, 2020

AnnalynZerollIceCreamScooper200427Who doesn’t like getting the scoop on an interesting story about an ice cream scooper … or Ice Cream Dipper as designer Sherman Kelly called it.


My son-in-law Drew sent me an email the other day: “We have reached a new level of boredom on quarantine – reading about history of our ice cream scoop after making ice cream shakes/malts for a snack. It melts the ice cream with the warmth of your hand while scooping …”

But the interesting “scoop (Merriam-Webster definition 4a) is how the history of this Zeroll Ice Cream Dipper connects to so many places our families can relate to: West Palm Beach Florida, Toledo and Maumee Ohio … as well as in recent years in Fort Pierce and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

After reading this,  I had to check our three different Ice Cream dippers. Nope, none were of the Zeroll design, but I do like the mechanical complexity in this one.


From the Zeroll website:



Sherman Kelly, while vacationing in West Palm Beach, Florida, observed a young woman dipping ice cream. Noticing the blisters on her hand from the constant use of the disher in the hard ice cream, he thought to himself, there must be a better way to serve ice cream.


Sherman Kelly developed the design for the Zeroll Ice Cream Dipper and received a patent.

The dipper was a non-mechanical ice cream scoop, made of cast aluminum, with fluid inside the handle. Its unique design transferred heat from the user’s hand, warming the fluid, which in turn defrosted the ice cream dipper.


Midst of Great Depression, Zeroll’s ability to roll the ice cream into a ball instead of squeezing it, allowing the dispenser to get 10% – 20% more servings per gallon. This was one of its key selling points, especially in the Great Depression.


The Zeroll Co. is established in Kelly’s garage on Robinwood Avenue in Toledo, Ohio. His wife, Hazel, worked for him at a wage of fifty cents per hour.  ALCOA, the Aluminum Company of America, made the scoop to Kelly’s specifications.  Priced at $2.25 and available in 5 different sizes.  It came with a five-day, money-back guarantee.


Zeroll  sells thousands of scoops in its first full-year of production.

1939 – 1945 WWII

Production stalled.  The aluminum needed to produce the scoops was diverted to wartime use. The business was virtually dormant for several years.  Its main source of income came from refurbishing and polishing scoops for existing customers.


Sherman’s son (Ralph) and Noel Dowling revived the company.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, The Zeroll Co. was one of the first to obtain aluminum after the war. Zeroll also developed scoops lacking the fluid-filled handles.  These were meant to capitalize on the increasing home market.


Sherman Kelly passed away, at age 83.


Ralph moves the company to Maumee, Ohio and changes name to Roll Dippers.  For the next 15 years, it was as slow period for the Company.


Tom and Art Funka purchase the Company and enjoy the challenge of turning The Zeroll Co. back into the successful business it once was.   They attended tradeshows and sent out mass mailings to market their products and instituted a network of sales representatives throughout the country.


The Company moves back to Toledo and changes name back to The Zeroll Co.


Zerolon line is developed.  The hardcoat anodized finish, sealed with Teflon protects against hard or over-chlorinated water that can be detrimental to the aluminum finish of the scoops.


EZ Dishers are introduced by Zeroll.  A one-piece, ergonomically designed, spring-less food portioner, available in thirteen sizes.


Zeroll moves to Fort Pierce, Florida.


The Museum of Modern Art features the Zeroll Scoop in the Humble Masterpieces permanent collection.


The Original TubMate Spade is re-designed with a longer handle and thicker blade. The Zelato Spade, a portioner for Gelato, is also introduced.


The Legacy Companies acquires Zeroll and chooses to keep the heritage of Zeroll and the brand name.


Zeroll moves manufacturing to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

From humble beginnings in a garage to today, The Zeroll Co. is proud of its heritage and will continue to be a pioneer in the world of smallwares for years to come.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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