PADUCAH, Ky. — A Kentucky-based ice cream company is gaining a lot of attention as an unlikely hero in the fight against COVID-19.

What You Need To Know

  • Dippin' Dots freezers may soon be used to store COVID-19 vaccines

  • The ice cream company has been contacted by HHS and FEMA about their ultra-low temperature chest freezers

  • Dippin' Dots are created by flash-freezing ice cream mix with liquid nitrogen and stored at -40 degrees Fahrenheit

  • The company's freezers can store items as low as -122 degrees Fahrenheit, cold enough to store both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines

Dippin’ Dots has been contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services and FEMA for information about their chest freezers. With storage temperatures ranging from -40 to -122 degrees Fahrenheit, the freezers could soon be used to store COVID-19 vaccines.

Founded in 1988 in Illinois, the flash-frozen ice cream company's headquarters are located in Paducah, Ky. Chief Development Officer Stan Jones said for the last three decades, they’ve refined how to distribute their ice cream.

Now, their customized refrigeration equipment line has gotten more attention.

“We have some of the federal agencies that are contacting us now to see what are capabilities are,” Jones said. “They’re looking at sending freezers to U.S Territories. We’re looking at potentially sending some to Guam and some of the other areas that are more remote."

The Department of Health and Human Services and FEMA have contacted the ice cream company for the ultra-low temperature chest freezers that range from from -40 to -122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jones said the Dippin’ Dots freezers are made to hold ice-cream — which is made in using liquid nitrogen to freeze the flavored pellets — at a very low temperature.

“So it’s very cold to start with and in order to keep the quality of the product and keep it free flowing and high quality, we have to maintain it a minus 40 degree fahrenheit,” Jones said. “The distribution is very similar. We distribute on dry ice and we ship to all of our different locations using dry-ice.”

Shipping COVID-19 vaccines requires a similar precision and can get tricky. 

The Pfizer vaccine ships in temperature-controlled thermal shippers using dry ice to maintain the storage temperature at -94 degrees fahrenheit and Moderna’s requires -4 degrees to ship and store.

There’s a 6-month shelf life for both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine once it's shipped and stored in low temperature freezers.

Jones said so far, they’ve sold two freezers, but vaccine roll out is in the early stages.