From military intel to food tech: Israeli machine produces frozen treats in 60 seconds

Gelatos, iced coffee, smoothies, and frozen yogurt are available at the touch of a button, thanks to tech team with IDF experience.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

For all those who would prefer an ice cream break instead of the traditional coffee break at the office, there is an Israeli-invented machine out on the market that can produce a personal frozen treat in some 60 seconds, the NoCamels website reported Sunday.

Solato, based in Maalot, on the Israeli-Lebanon border, with its R&D department in Tel Aviv, was founded in 2017 by Barak Beth-Halachmi, a former hi-tech entrepreneur who also studied gastronomy in Italy and became a gelato expert due to his love of the product, which has a denser texture and richer flavor than ice cream.

He and his Israeli team invented a capsule system that works much like a coffee machine: Choose your flavor – there are hundreds – put the pod in the compact appliance which reads the unique code on top, and in a minute or so, out comes the ice cream, gelato, fruit smoothie, frozen yogurt or iced coffee, as fresh as could be.

“In order to eat ice cream at its perfect temperature, texture, and for people to really get the feel of what ice cream and real gelato is meant to taste like, you need to have it the moment it’s been produced. And the only way you can do it is if you have a single-served capsule product,” company marketing head Lisa Mendelson told the website, which specializes in reporting on breakthrough Israeli innovation, technology, and startups.

In a twist, she gave partial credit to the IDF for Solato’s success.

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“I think one of our biggest advantages is that our R&D happens in Israel, and the people who work for Solato were in the Israeli intelligence for many years and had unlimited resources to work on technologies,” she said. “So, if they were creating robots five years ago, they’re now creating ice-cream machines.”

Solato’s chief technology officer, Eyal Golan, for example, was head of an R&D department of Israeli military intelligence for three years before joining the company, according to his LinkedIn profile.

According to Mendelson, this is the only commercial ice cream machine so far on the market. As of now, the food tech startup has two stores in Canada and rents its machines to businesses both in Israel and the U.S., where it launched a year ago. Employees in such financial giants as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are enjoying its products while at work, and it’s available to patrons of certain hotels, restaurants, and even New York’s Madison Square Garden.

‘Great if you want a side of apartheid’

The company is planning to expand to England and France next year.

It’s not yet available on the general market. There is a waiting list, however, on Solato’s website, and the company promises to notify them when the machine becomes available.

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Solato suffered from an antisemitic backlash soon after it opened its first store in Toronto in June last year. After a positive story was published about it on the blogTO food website, pro-Palestinian proponents of BDS called for people to give it negative reviews.

While a few hundred gave it a thumbs down with such comments as “great if you want a side of apartheid,” it was somewhat balanced by a slew of positive reviews commenting on its great taste and blasting, as one person put it, the “haters” who were “doing their usual fake Google reviews.”