The Filippo Rating Scale for Soft Serve Ice Cream Cones or FRSSSICC is a defined method for rating individual soft serve ice cream cones. The method involves using four criteria to describe the ice cream cone’s overall structure, consistency, and character. These criteria are cone, consistency, creaminess, and cost.
“An ice cream cone, much like a diamond, is all about the 4 C’s, cone, consistency, creaminess, and cost.” – Derrik Filippo
Soft serve ice cream cones are sold all over the world, but as with any commodity there can be significant differences between individual cones. As such a method was needed to be able to consistently compare the variety of ice cream cones available. Thus the Filippo Rating Scale for Soft Serve Ice Cream Cones was created.
The FRSSSICC was initially established in May of 2013 as a reliable method of qualifying the overall experience of a soft serve ice cream cone. While the Filippo Scale is not the final destination of the soft serve experience it offers the perfect vehicle to aid you in arriving at the best ice cream encounter you can have.
Through a lifetime of experience and several weeks of intense investigation, Derrik Filippo was able to distill the soft serve experience into four easily identifiable and usable categories: cone, consistency, creaminess, and cost.
Below is a detailed list of what each criteria means and how it is graded, the grade for each criteria is then weighted and averaged for the overall grade. This is described in more detail in the section titled Final Grade.
The cone is the foundational basis for the entire endeavor, without the cone an ice cream cone is just ice cream. Cones are judged on their freshness and their flavor. Overall construction is also taken into account, a poorly constructed cone that easily chips or has a leak can quickly spell disaster.
There are two primary types of cone, waffle and sugar. Waffle cones are conical in shape and tend to have more overall flavor than sugar cones, however, some, do not find that flavor very appealing. Sugar cones typically come in a tiered cylinder shape and usually have thin walls and wind up being very flaky. The cone type does not ultimately define the cone rating; rather the consumer preference and availability of the preferred type facilitate making the final grade. If the consumer prefers a waffle cone and the supplier only offers sugar cones then this would be used as a basis for giving a lower cone grade.
Cone freshness and flavor play a large role in the cone grade, stale cones often have an unpleasant taste and texture, degrading the overall experience. Cones that are freshly made at the point of distribution are unusual but they will assist in carrying the highest grade.
Cone construction is also important; a poorly constructed cone can be brittle and break easily, causing a mess. Pay close attention to the tips of waffle cones as when the ice cream begins to melt it can leak out of the bottom. Sugar cones have different issues, but similar results with leakage when the wall thickness is not adequate.
The cone is graded on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is the worst possible cone you can get and 10 is the best tasting, freshest, and most sturdily constructed cone.
The consistency is the first item of the frozen nature we take into account and it involves less of the texture and more along the lines of is it firm and maintain its shape or does it quickly begin to deform around the edges of the cone? Ice cream that deforms too quickly is an indication that the machine is not dispensing it at the proper temperature and can lead to sticky situations.
Poor ice cream consistency is usually indicative of one of two things, the temperature is not being properly maintained in the mixing machine or the air quantity within the mix is too great causing premature melting. Neither one is acceptable and a corresponding low grade should be given should any early deformation of the ice cream be detected.
This is not to say that the soft serve should never deform (or take too long to do so), ice cream that is too hard or firm can be just as unpleasant and should also be given a corresponding low grade.
The consistency is graded on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is when the ice cream is practically dripping down the sides of the cone or it is as solid as a rock and a 10 is that perfect blend of firmness and softness.
Creaminess is all about texture, is it gritty or is it smooth? A gritty ice cream is not always a bad thing, but more often than not it is an indication of a poor mixture within the machine or that the machine itself is struggling to maintain the proper temperature while adequately mixing the ice cream.
The science behind the creaminess is the quantity of air mixed into it. Some soft serve machines add up to 45% air into the mix, meaning for 1 gallon of ice cream mix the machine produces 1.45 gallons. Soft serve that appears to be lighter in color and creamier in texture will have more air mixed in than something that is more yellow in color and appears to be “grainy”. Like most things in life the law of diminishing returns applies with the amount of air as well, too much air and the soft serve becomes bland and tasteless and melts much too quickly.
The ideal soft serve will appear to be almost pure white in color (if your chosen flavor is vanilla) and will have a very smooth texture. If your ice cream appears like it has sand in the mixture then a lower grade should be applied for creaminess. Normally there is a direct correlation between taste and the quantity of air in the mixture.
The creaminess is graded on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is a very grainy or very smooth yet tasteless and a 10 is a very smooth texture with excellent taste.
Cost is an important factor, especially when talking about an ICC whose cost is nearly double that of a competitor while only having marginally better C’s. Cost is the simplest of the criteria to grade, a lower cost means a higher grade while a higher cost means a lower grade. This does not mean that cost alone is the deciding factor when it comes to selecting a soft serve experience, merely that it is a factor. Grades should be given based on the cone’s price when compared to the regional mean price of an ice cream cone.
The cost is graded on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is 1000% of the regional mean price of an ice cream cone or greater, and a 10 is 10% of the regional mean price of an ice cream cone or cheaper.
Each criterion is not given an equal weight, meaning some factors are more important than others. If ice cream were a high priced commodity cost would be given equal weight with creaminess, but since the cost of most ice cream cones is minimal it does not carry the same weight.
In order to keep the scales easy to remember (0-10) the formula for calculating the overall grade is given below: