The Arctic Scoop
Nitrogen ice cream shop brings family of five closer together.
Writer / Catherine Rowles
Alison Nye, co-founder of Jeffersontown’s icy wonder, The Arctic Scoop, with husband Frank, speaks of her daughter’s struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome and how this diagnosis led her family to open an exciting business concocting sweet treats with liquid nitrogen. Sound scientific?
“Our last name is also Nye, so the science aspect is natural for us,” she jokes, referencing Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Nye and husband Frank opened the The Arctic Scoop two and a half years ago after deciding they wanted a career enabling them to work with their three teenagers. Their oldest daughter, Valerie, has Asperger’s Syndrome and struggled to find a job due to the disorder and its impact on her social skills.
Asperger’s Syndrome, first described in the 1940’s by Hans Asperger, is a form of high functioning Autism. According to the Autism Society, “individuals with Asperger’s Disorder usually want to fit in and have interaction with others, but often they don’t know how to do it. They may be socially awkward, not understand conventional social rules or show a lack of empathy.”
Valerie is very intelligent and became conversant in Pokémon to such a degree that Nye affectionately calls her daughter a walking Pokédex. Pokémon’s magnetism coupled with Asperger’s unwavering focus intensified Valerie’s interest in the Japanese culture and led her to begin studying the Japanese language in eighth grade.
When Valerie was young, some people may have thought she was just a little different or high strung, Nye says. She was rigid in many regards, had her own way of pronouncing words and would not be corrected. It was difficult changing family routines, and she required extra support preparing for even minute alterations. Valerie was initially diagnosed with ADHD, but Nye knew this diagnosis was not sufficient. It was not until Nye began working alongside a girl with Asperger’s and researched the diagnosis that she finally found the answer for which she had been searching.
“When I read the description, I started crying,” Nye says. “This was the best description of my daughter that I had ever seen, and I knew this was it, my daughter had Asperger’s.”
Medical evaluations then led to an official diagnosis and Valerie finally received the understanding and support she needed at home and school. She made good friends thru the Louisville Youth Group who accepted her for who she was, helping to build deserved confidence in herself.
As their children grew older, Nye and her husband set out to find a family occupation allowing them to spend time together while teaching their children the ins, outs, ups, downs and grit behind owning a business. They considered franchising or buying a current business, but they discovered few business models were appropriate for their needs with three teenagers.
Excitement peaked when they came upon a cool new ice cream concept. They prudently researched the business model and decided nitrogen ice cream would enable them to provide not only fresh ice cream but also offer customers the enjoyment of watching a bowl of liquid base cream and mix-ins be hand churned into creamy frozen perfection right before their eyes.
While young, Nye’s son could not eat dairy or eggs and her daughter’s Asperger’s Syndrome induced issues with food coloring and additives.
“We understand the value of knowing what is in our food and having to watch what you eat, so the concept of making ice cream to order goes along with our values and interests,” Nye says.
The Arctic Scoop has options for everyone, including those with food allergies and sensitivities. Ice cream bases include premium cream, custard, yogurt or non-dairy. An array of mix-ins include fruit, chocolate, sprinkles, cookies, caramel, fudge, brownie, gummies and an assortment of candies. Nut items are located on a separate counter away for other mix-ins and all bowls and kitchen tools are sanitized between use.
“Being able to work alongside my daughter has helped her grow into an independent young woman,” Nye says. “Those little steps that most people take for granted were a hard climb for her.”
Over time, Valerie has grown comfortable working the register and socializing with customers. The Arctic Scoop, supportive parenting and a fascination with Pokémon and the Japanese culture have instilled in Valerie the interest, responsibility, confidence, courage and social skills to attend college abroad in Japan, where she now aspires to teach English after graduation. She is halfway around the world and doing great.
“Opening a business may be a little extreme to help your child, but we made the decision for our own reasons,” Nye says. “Nothing could be better than doing this as a family.”
Her oldest son is attending the University of Louisville as an Engineer major, and her youngest son is in high school. Nye is very proud of her children’s accomplishments and grateful that The Arctic Scoop has enabled her family to cultivate their lives and bloom together.
Aside from fresh, delicious ice cream, The Arctic Scoop hosts parties and offers liquid nitrogen demonstrations, catering, fundraising, taste testing night, game night and homemade baked goods.
The Arctic Scoop is located at 841 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy, Louisville, KY or give them a call at 502-409-6602.