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on February 9, 2003
I read the reviews before purchasing it, and was pleasantly surprised when I tried it out. The ice cream came out easily firm enough for cones.

Suggestions for using:
1) place parts in freezer 10-15 min. before use
2) put toppings in freezer before using (if the toppings are warm they will melt the ice cream as they are mixing)
3) Buy a half-gallon of ice cream in the rectangular carton, open it up and use a butcher knife to quickly chop the ice cream into cubes to put into the machine (doesn't take long, so the ice cream is not too soft)--note: you can just fold the box back up and put it in a freezer bag when putting it away
4) rinse the parts immediately after use--easy clean-up
5) I make ice cream for my family, and then I eat the ice cream off of the "dasher" that everyone is complaining about (It is not sharp, and you can hold it like a big popsicle, and then not much is wasted)
Improvements Needed:
1) It mixes the ice cream a little slowly
2) It would be easier if the on/off switch didn't have to be held down constantly
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 7, 2003
I got this for Christmas and while I use it every night, and *really* like the ice cream/topping combos that come out, the design of the product is really terrible.
The pros: Does a great job of mixing the ice cream and the toppings together, and makes even the most low-fat, sugar-free ice creams taste amazing. Unlike other reviewers- I found it incredibly easy to clean- I just pull out the pump and and the "grinder" from the base and put it in the top shelf of the dishwasher. No ice cream gets on the base or motor. I've been able to make a serving without assistance- pushing on a lever and pressing a button doesn't require another person.
The cons: the design of this machine is terrible. Half of your ice cream disappears- I'm not sure if the ice cream is super compressed in the machine or what, but if you put in a normal serving of ice cream, you will only get 25% of it out, even after scraping down the parts. The way the machine works is that a pump pushes the ice cream down to a spinning grinder, which blends the ice cream with the toppings. Most of the ice cream winds up stuck to the grinder part, as there is no machanism that scrapes it and pushes it out. After you are done extracting the ice cream from the machine, you have to pull the grinder off and scrape it down to get most of your dessert. By that time it's more the texture of a "Blizzard" than soft serve. Because the grinder piece is so weirdly designed, there's no way to get all the ice cream off it it, even with a tiny spatula. It's a waste of food.
If you are okay with wasting a lot of ice cream, and don't mind manually scraping the grinder once you are done, then go ahead and buy this.The results *are* delicious, despite the work involved with actually getting them in a dish! I just don't understand why an engineer at Black and Decker couldn't come up with a machine that blends ice cream and then uses a pump to extract it all from the machine.
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on January 12, 2003
Although this machine does indeed make hard ice cream soft, you need to use a pint of ice cream to get two cones. The rest of the ice cream remains on the blade and you practically have to eat if off there.
The ice cream also has to be extremely hard or it will be liquified.
The on/off switch has to be depressed constantly, because as soon as you release the switch the machine goes off. The machine also has to be operated by two persons, because of the hardness of the on/off switch.
For me this was a very bad buy. I used it just once and never will again. For me it was a waste of money.
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on April 8, 2006
Don't pay any attention to the truly uncoordinated people who tell you it takes two or more people to run this machine--I honestly can't figure out why it would! It couldn't be easier & the resulting treats couldn't be better!!

Reading some of the reviews of this product just leaves me scratching my such, I apologize for any cynicism you may detect in my review, but I feel the need to counter some of the misinformation out there (and I empathize with the Black & Decker reps who had to deal with some of these cranky people who are too inept to operate a rather simple tool).

1. The "ON" switch does NOT need to be held down like a pulse-button--just turn it on & let go, people...this leaves your hands free to pick up the cone & fill it with the deliciously yummy treat coming out of the Arctic Twister. When you're done, just turn it off again (see, now wasn't that easy?).

2. The idea that it takes too long is hilarious, too. Unless, of course, the 90-seconds it takes to assemble it & scoop in the ingredients is considered a lot of time (certainly not in my book, especially considering the fact that the results are WAY better than a DQ Blizzard). I literally took this product out of the box the first time and was eating an awesome dessert in less than 2 minutes--without reading any directions for assembly or use--it is that simple of a product to figure out. Clean up is a breeze, too. It dismantles with the push of a button & it rinses in the sink, again, in just a few seconds (there are only three pieces to wash). It is easy enough to use that it's not a big deal to reassemble it if someone wants seconds or more people pop in after you've taken it apart--it literally is one of the easiest & most fun food preparation products we own. So the idea that jumping into a car & going to DQ for Blizzards would be somehow more efficient is outrageous (and the closest one to us is only 5 miles away). It would truly take longer just to get our shoes on* & into the car than it would take to run the Arctic Twister! (* = I'm talking a family of four who all tie our own shoes--no other hindrances like diaper bags or anything.)

3. Noisy? Well, the thing DOES have a motor. So does your blender, food processor, popcorn popper & hand mixer! It's not like you're running this thing for any real length of time. In my mind, if you can't handle a bit of noise from a product like this for all of 10-30 seconds, then you are missing the whole point of having a good time using a product that is meant to be fun. Lighten up folks--life is wayyyyy too short!

4. And, no, a regular ice cream scoop is NOT too big to use with this machine (when you see the size of the chute into which you place the ice cream, you'll find this a strange comment, too). No special equipment needed here.

5. Next, I can't imagine there is a kid out there (or many of us adults either) who wait for everyone in the room to have their cones in-hand before taking a lick of there now a new etiquette to eating ice cream? I wonder if the comment about waiting for everyone to be served was written by Emily Post (with ice cream dripping down her arm)!? The laws of physics explain pretty well why ice cream melts the longer it is out of the freezer. Therefore, mix it, serve it & eat it--no need to sit and admire it (although it IS pretty darn cool).

6. Finally, the comment about this product being too hard to use if you have arthritis is SO untrue...I have pretty severe arthritis in both my hands and my elbows and had NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER using this machine. The most difficult part was scooping the ice cream from its original container--if you can do this part, you should be fine. If you can't scoop it out & you don't have arthritis, then your freezer temperature is set too low or you should dip the scooper in hot water first. However, once the ice cream is in the Arctic Twister and the motor is turned on, it begins to soften up--and one only needs to push the handle periodically and enough to advance the ice cream down toward the mixing assembly, but a lot of physical effort is not required since the motor does the work of mixing & churning the food. Again, if I could do this without any pain, nearly anyone can.

Truth be known, I agree with the comments that the design of this machine could be improved upon, since a fair amount of ice cream is not pushed through the machine (although we, too, have NO issues in licking the remains off the cone-shaped assembly--it's no different than licking the beaters when making a cake! Probably another lapse in the etiquette of our house ;) ). It would probably be nice is there was a way the machine could extrude closer to 100% of the finished product. But this is not enough to make me want to return the machine--and even less of an issue when serving a larger group of people, since the amount wasted remains the same whether making one cone or 50 cones & therefore becomes a relatively minor amount after numerous consecutive servings.

I am very impressed that this little gadget is so great at pulverizing the mix-ins, especially in the absence of any sharp parts (there is nothing that could cut you whatsoever--all parts are plastic, but seem sturdy at the same time). I half-expected the chocolcate chips to pose a problem because of their larger size and hard consistency; but they came out tiny & beautifully interspersed amid the Girl Scout Cookies, nuts, sprinkles and whatever else we added. Versus DQ (and other ice cream places), it is nice that you can use as many ingredients as you want (and have a greater variety) without being charged 50 cents or whatever they charge for each one, you can vary the flavor of the base ice cream, and you don't have to pack everyone into the car and stand in long lines and even battle to find a place to sit. The Arctic Twister is convenient and fun and, in short, I highly recommend it! I decided to write a review because I was just about to buy one for my sister's kids for Easter this year and couldn't believe the amount of negative reviews about it. I have no doubt they will love it as much as we do.
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on November 6, 2002
I bought one locally for my Mom as she likes soft serve, well, I HAD to buy one for myself, and that's when I saw Amazon has it and I'm buying it. It makes ice cream like you get from soft serve machines at DQ and places like that. You do need to make sure the ice cream you put in the machine is VERY hard, other wise it wont make a good soft serve cone, it'll be way to soft. This machine is great if you are making more than one cone, and you will need atleast two people if you are making cones. It's a nice little kitchen tool, and I highly recommend this. Play around and come up with neat mixes, add candy and nut pieces, have fun with it.
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on January 3, 2003
I am really disappointed with the performance of this product. It is poorly designed for operation. It requires that you keep your finger on a pulse-type on/off switch while you are also pumping a handle or pushing down on a plunger in the feed tube of the machine. The blade that blends the ice cream with the additives does not turn fast enough. The directions say you need to have very frozen ice cream. Well, they mean frozen like an ice core sample dug from the Arctic! I started with what I thought was rock hard ice cream and that was too soft. This product is a waste of money. You could achieve the same end result by blending additives into ice cream by hand.
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on November 6, 2002
This is a quick way to get soft serve ice cream with store bought ice cream. I did find it rather easy but the ice cream must be very hard. Ice hard to be exact otherwise it comes out to soft for cones. Make sure you fill it up to get best results. This machine is not good for making just one. Also for cones you need two people, one to work the machine since you got to hold the button down to keep it going at the same time pumping down on the handle. That's two hands right there. The person needs to hold and turn the cone. Blending in topping is the best. It really crunches it up. I used chocolate balls and they got grounded into powder.
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on December 31, 2002
1.This product does make soft icecream and you can use all the delicious ingredients you want.
2. I find clean up relatively easy by just running the parts under hot running water right after using.
1. Takes a LOT of icecream to make a small serving.
2. The first time you fill it---it basically just coats the crusher bar with icecream. Which doesn't come off without scraping it off by hand after you're done making soft servings.
3. You have to hold down the power button for some stupid reason rather than just turning it on and off.
4. You have to pump the lever on the machine with the other hand to get the icecream to decend.
5. If you're going to make cones you need a 3rd hand to hold the cone and rotate it as the icecream dispenses.
Would I buy this model again paying [what I did]
No, I would wait till it evolves into a better performing automatic machine.
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on August 12, 2003 12 year old son just loves this so let me separate this into kids and moms...
What a kid would like:
You can add things to the ice cream like cookie bits, candies, toppings of all sorts and it will be incorporated into the ice cream (execpt soft gummy things). It makes a soft smooth ice cream parlor product. You can mix flavors together. A child can run it, theoretically... Kids just think this is so much fun...the whole sha-bang. Mixing in things, wathcing it..eating it..making more.
The mom side:
It's big... it's big to store and big for a counter. If you don't have a big place to put this or use this often this would be a tough thing to put away and is too big to leave out.
The unit makes about 3 cones at a time before refilling. It uses alot of ice cream (and it has to be frozen solid)... the ice cream becomes very smoothe and delicious without the air but the calorie count must be mind boggling when compressed.
It really takes more than one set of hands to use...I think this is a big design issue. Plus you have to slide a bowl under the spout after your done or your counters will have the drippy ice cream on them...
This is a very tough call. If you think you can use it often and if you have the space for it than this would might a good purchase. I used this at someones home...someone with alot of storage space. For me, this wouldn't be a good sized appliance or something that I would use often enough to buy.
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on February 10, 2004
I got this because I thought that it would be a fun item to have around. It is, but it does have it's faults.
It is really hard for one person to work this machine. There has to be at least two. The ice cream melts a lot before you even get it through the machine (another reviewer mentioned putting parts in the freezer before you use the machine).
The prep time to use this machine is a pain. You either have to use a melon baller or another small scooper or cut the ice cream into cubes before you put them in the machine. Using a normal ice cream scooper will be too big. If the ice cream is frozen solid, cut it into cubes and put it in the freezer so it can soften a bit, the machine will work much better.
Clean up isn't so bad. Have a sink of warm, soapy water ready. The sooner you get the machine in there, the easier it is to clean. If you can't clean the machine right away, let it soak for a bit.
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