Selecting the Right Type of Ice for Your Concept

Ice is an essential component in the foodservice industry, playing a crucial role in applications ranging from beverages to seafood displays. Selecting the right type of ice is an important choice that can significantly impact customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. Ultimately, those factors can also impact profitability.

Though there are many applications, ensuring that beverages are served at the optimal temperature without watering down the flavor is considered a primary function. Whether it’s a refreshing soft drink, a carefully crafted cocktail, or a glass of water, ice helps maintain the desired temperature and enhances the overall taste and enjoyment of the beverage. The right type of ice can also add visual appeal to drinks, creating an attractive presentation that entices customers and leaves a lasting impression.

Beverages aren’t the only use case for ice, though. Ice is also essential for preserving the quality and safety of perishable food items. Many foodservice establishments rely on ice to keep ingredients fresh during storage and transport. Flake ice, for example, is commonly used in supermarket displays to maintain the freshness of seafood and produce. The soft, moldable nature of flake ice allows it to surround and protect delicate items, preventing bruising and maintaining optimal temperatures.

The Basics of Ice Types and Applications

Various types of ice can be used in commercial foodservice and beverage applications, each with unique characteristics and best uses, as alluded to above. Let’s take a look at some of the basics:

Full and Half Cube Ice

Full ice cubes or half cubes are rectangular in shape and provide a clean look. The large size and solid structure of the full cube often yield a slower melt rate, offering maximum cooling while reducing the potential for watered-down beverages. For this reason, they’re often preferred in certain types of cocktails and can also be best suited for ice bagging and soft drinks. When reduced to half cubes, they can provide even faster cooling potential due to more surface area connecting ice to liquid. This makes them popular for dispensing and use in blended beverages.

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice, which we’ll highlight below with Follett’s Chewblet® ice and Icetro’s nugget ice, is extremely popular with consumers because of the great mouthfeel it provides when chewing. It’s also referred to as pebble, pellet, or soft ice. Each nugget absorbs the flavors of drinks and blends well, cooling drinks rapidly. Nugget ice is commonly found in healthcare facilities, restaurants, bars, and convenience stores. It’s the ideal ice for soft drinks and can also be great in blenders for frozen cocktails like margaritas and daiquiris. In hospitals and healthcare facilities, this is the perfect ice for patients because it’s easy to chew.

Flake Ice

Flake ice is soft and snow-like. Due to its soft consistency, flake ice is gentle on produce and fragile seafood in displays or food transport, preventing bruising. The softness also makes it ideal for compressing injuries as it cools without adding too much pressure. Flake ice is commonly found in grocery stores, fish markets, buffets, and healthcare institutions.

Middleby Brands for Commercial Ice Types

Middleby Corporation offers a range of commercial ice machines and dispensers through renowned brands like Follett and Icetro. These brands cater to various industries, including foodservice, healthcare, and hospitality, providing high-quality ice solutions to meet diverse needs. Let’s briefly outline some of the benefits for each commercial ice machine manufacturer.


Follett is a leading manufacturer of innovative ice machines, dispensers, and storage solutions. Their products are designed to deliver superior performance, reliability, and sanitation. Follett ice machines are tailored to different needs and centered around three main shapes. Choosing the right one is crucial for customer satisfaction and your operation’s success.

follett ice machine and bin on white backgroundChewblet® Ice

Chewblet ice consists of uniformly shaped, chewable, compressed nugget ice. The nuggets measure approximately 1″ (2.54 cm) long. Customers highly prefer the ice’s soft, chewable texture. Its porous composition absorbs drink flavors, providing a flavorful, crunchy treat. Consumers prefer Chewblet ice 2 to 1 over cube ice. Foodservice operators have reported increased sales of over 25% when changing from cube to Chewblet ice. Due to its versatility, the best uses for Chewblet ice include hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, and healthcare facilities.

Micro Chewblet™ Ice

Micro Chewblet ice is a smaller version of Chewblet ice, with nuggets measuring approximately 3/8” (0.95 cm) long. Its smaller size enhances chewability and offers higher quality than other nugget ice forms, dispensing more reliably. Consumers are more likely to buy fountain drinks when they can have chewable ice and will go out of their way to find it. Due to its flexibility and versatility, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, and healthcare facilities are the best uses for Micro Chewblet ice.

Flake Ice

Flake ice consists of soft, moldable, irregularly shaped pieces resembling snow. Flakes measure approximately 0.03” to 0.07” (0.08 – 0.2 cm) and have a flat shape with no hard edges. Flake ice melts quickly to cool products, produce, or perishables fast and efficiently. It packs well and shields products against damage. Because it can be molded, flake ice is best used in supermarket produce and seafood displays, laboratories, and research facilities. It is available in Maestro Plus ice machines.


Icetro logoIcetro‘s diverse product range offers an array of ice types to ensure that businesses can find the perfect ice machine to suit their specific requirements, space constraints, and budget while enhancing customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Modular Ice Machines

These units are ideal for high-volume applications like restaurants, bars, and large events. They produce large quantities of full and half cube ice that can be paired with different bins or dispensers. Customers typically need at least 300 pounds of ice daily, with some Icetro models producing up to 2,000 pounds daily. These machines come in 22”, 30”, and 48” widths and can be air-cooled, water-cooled, or remote-cooled. Icetro also offers a 700-pound modular unit that makes nugget or flake ice.

Undercounter Ice Machines

Undercounter ice machines are ideal because they fit under standard countertops, ideal for small bars, cafes, or limited spaces. Icetro undercounter units can provide nugget, cube, or gourmet cube ice for a variety of applications. They produce moderate amounts of ice with built-in storage, typically less than 300 pounds per day. Often used alongside modular units, they make ice access easier for staff.

Nugget Ice and Water Dispensers

These units are convenient for self-service areas, dispensing chewable nugget ice and water directly into cups. Common in break rooms, cafeterias, and convenience stores, these machines both make and store the nugget ice while also providing filtered water.

middleby ice machine selector cta




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