Food and Beverage

Opal makes easily chewed crushed ice for when you chill out

Ice: the ingredients don’t vary much and neither does the recipe. It can be made into perfect spheres at home. However, those who frequent some of the finer concession sands may encounter  a form of crushed ice that’s easy on the teeth and soaks up the flavor of that which it cools.

That ice, as it turns out, is called “nugget ice” or “pellet ice” and a company called Scotsman claims to have invented it in 1981. Scotsman does make a home nugget ice maker, but it stands nearly three feet tall; most of the company’s focus is on large industrial systems. Enter the Opal, a countertop nugget ice maker that has the look of a modern stainless steel appliance and is almost a tenth of the price of the competition. Opal’s proposition is pretty straightforward. Pour in water and wait. The product makes up to a pound of ice per hour, which is faster than most freezers. its clear, LED-lit receptacle can store up to 3 lbs.

Alas, there’s no smartphone link to allow monitoring of ice production, warn of low nugget ice availability or evaluate crystal structure consistency from halfway around the globe. FirstBuild, GE’s appliance incubator behind the Opal, seeks $150,000 by August 27th. The $499 ($379 on early bird) specialty ice maker is slated to ship in July 2016 so backers are stuck with unspeakably hard ice for the rest of the summer.

Opal is the latest modern crowdfunded convenience vying for a place on the countertop alongside the likes of the similarly priced (and complementary) Nourish nutrition drink mixer, Bartesian cocktail maker and June and Maid smart ovens. But at least most of these produce something of some nutritional value, not a coolant. For those who seek superior ice at a price, Opal could be a gem.

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