The rise of the $8 ice cube, markets in everything

So how can an ice cube be worth eight dollars?  It is simple eough:

“Gläce Luxury Ice is a meticulously designed and differentiated ice brand specifically designed for use in premium drinks and cocktails. The Gläce Mariko Sphere is a perfectly spherical 2.5-inch piece with a melting rate of 20-30 minutes. The Gläce G-Cubed, a symmetrical 2.5-inch cube, has a dilution rate of 20-40 minutes. Gläce Ice pieces are individually carved from a 300-lb. block to ensure flawless quality and a zero-taste profile, never contaminating the essence of premium liquors and drinks.”

Better yet:

In addition to their cubes, Gläce also offers the “Mariko,” a sphere that the company claims “is the most mathematically efficient way to cool your drink” — though probably not so for your bank account: 50 “spheres” run $325 (same as their cube counterparts).

And how does the company describe the “Mariko”?

“The sphere is the most efficient shape in nature holding the greatest volume to surface area ratio of any other geometric shape. Purified of minerals, additives and other pollutants that may contaminate the taste of premium liquors and drinks, the Gläce Luxury Ice Mariko sphere is meticulously crafted to deliver and embody the finest accessory for top shelf drinks.  Each five pieces are elegantly contained in a re-sealable pouch equipped with a one-way air check valve to ensure freshness.”

There is more here, including photos.


I don't see how they can compete with Sonic ice, sold by the bag.

$8 ice cubes remind me of a G.K. Chesterton quote:

"To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it."

Thanks for that!

They have patented the spherical ice cube.

But do the people making the ice cubes have the proper licences? The same nanny-staters going after Uber drivers will soon be after people making ice cubes without having paid the government their proper licensing fees. Soon enough WalMart greeters will need to prove to the government they are competent for the job (I mean pay off the government) before they can work the floors of your local retail store.

you're a real hit at social events, aren't you?

Will Walmart greeters have a higher certification requirements than attorneys? I only discuss Walmart online.

I think if this company survives it will start lobbying for ice licensing in order to drive out those grocery store competitors (proper licenses means less ice poisoning) and ensure folks can only make ice at home for their own use, giving it to friends and relatives will be considered unlicensed distribution. The next generation will find it perfectly reasonable that they have to pay $3000 plus a $500 lab fee and buy a $300 textbook in order to learn icecube engineering, and any guy who owns his own ice tray will look daring and rebellious.

Think of the licensing potential for home fermentation; pickles, sauerkraut, and piccalilli? Each vegetable would require a separate certification.

No need to stop at fermentation either: after all, unregulated food preparation is frightening and horrifying.

It took me a very, very long time to believe I could eat vegetables I fermented myself. Seriously, I stared at it in fear. Also a long time to eat meat sold (legally, by the cow) by a local rancher, if he'd shrink wrapped it I'd have felt better!

Sure, it sounds like a great idea... until something goes wrong. The second someone gets a brain freeze, they'll go to the emergency room and pass all those costs on the rest of us.

Excellent point, you can put an eye out that way!

I had a feeling you guys didn't get out into the real world much. Packaged ice is regulated by the FDA and restaurant ice machines are subject to various state regulations. Anyone with minimal experience in the hospitality industry would know this. Just to be nice, I won't even mention the phrase "ivory tower armchair quarterbacks."

I've searched for a way to distance myself from the accusation that I didn't think about ice being heavily regulated already, but I can't. Phooey.

You didn't think that bucket of ice in the mini-bar was free, did you?

The FDA has been holding back life-saving ice innovations for years. You can show that some divisions of FDA's Ice Regulation Department perform better than others by the variation in how quickly they approve ice technologies.

Anyone who's lived in Houston during a certain era will be familiar with the dangers of "Slime in the Ice Machine!!!" and the regulatory actions needed to control it.

I'm glad that the cube is symmetrical.

Yeah, I thought all of them were. Now I know better. Learn something new here every day.

I remember a story about a high school shop teacher who would assign as punishment cutting a perfect cube. The student would cut a cube, then he'd bring out a micrometer and say "No, no, it's a little shorter between these sides." and send the student back to get it right. This could go on forever.

In theory, forever, but in woodshop, less than forever.


But if you shot an arrow at the perfect cube in woodshop class, it could never get there, right?

There is really no other acceptable way to cool one's glass of Fiji Water.

r - Glacé = g

Ha! Awesome.

If only it were really spelled "Glacé". Then it would be a tiny, tiny, bit less ridiculous.

It's frozen water in the shape of a sphere... am i missing anything

Its purity of essence.

Hold on, doesn't your shtick involve getting excited over all manner of silliness?

There is no great stagnation!

Wouldn't ice shavings provide a higher surface area for that amount of ice?

Yes, the goal is lower surface area per volume to reduce the amount of liquid water diluting the drink.

Of course the inescapable tradeoff is that it does not cool the drink to the same temperature...

False. Any stable mixture of ice and water(which occurs after a few minutes) will be exactly 32 degrees F (0 C), by definition. It may take a bit longer to cool your drink, due to less surface area, but the benefit is that it will take much longer to dilute your drink, resulting in a more consistent flavor from start to finish.

That's only if you start out with a pre-chilled drink. If the drink starts at room temperature, round ice doesn't get you anywhere because by the time it gets the drink to 32 degrees, the ice has already melted, even with the slower melting rate. This is because the rate of cooling is inversely proportional to the rate of melting.

I tested this with a thermocouple to prove a point to my wife about my mother in law wh always wants her glass filled to the top with ice. You actually do "gain" a degree or two. I still don't think they could tell in a taste test nor is it worth filling drinks 3 times as often. It is mostly psychological.

Once the Ice/Water/EtOH mixture reaches equilibrium, the rate of melting should be the same regardless of ice area. This will be determined by how quickly heat is transferred into the drink from the surroundings.

For example: If you have a cube of ice in water and put the whole thing in a cooler that is exactly 0C. The ice will neither grow nor shrink.

Stable mixtures of ice and water which include things besides ice and water (e.g. alcohol) will not reach 32 degrees. They can get colder. You can observe this by putting an ice cube into a glass of vodka, and putting the glass into the freezer. The ice cube melts and the vodka doesn't freeze.

Also note that if the drink IS pre-chilled, the surface area makes no difference whatsoever. There is no free lunch to be had. The ice will melt at the same rate and the dilution will be the same regardless of the surface area. Only by melting can the ice lower the temperature of the water.

Colder drinks will absorb heat faster from that ambient.

This is why these kinds of questions kill me on an oral exam.

Will the ice still be "perfectly spherical" when it reaches that equilibrium, or will its shape depend on the geometry of the vessel? If the latter, could we improve over this product by developing ice that is shaped as a function of the shape of the vessel into which it will be deposited, so that upon reaching equilibrium it will have become perfectly spherical?

Everyone keeps saying "equilibrium" but I don't think they know what they mean. At equilibrium, the ice is all melted. What equilibrium is everyone talking about?

Why not just laminate or otherwise coat the ice with plastic? Put it in a sandwich bag for instance. Prior art?

Reusable plastic-coated ice cubes exist. And of course, lots of other methods to cool drinks exist, too, if this were really about minimizing dilution, and not just conspicuous consumption.

If you want a watery drink...

The main method by which ice cools water around it is by melting, so I think they are being a bit silly by promoting surface area to volume ratios; if it cools your drink it melts, therefore you get diluted. A/V just makes it happen slower or faster.

Optimal would be a cube of water with a thin plastic cover, I.e. a fake ice cube, because that will never dilute your drink.

"premium liquors and drinks" consist of the best malt whiskies. One doesn't put ice in them. A small amount of water may be added, preferably soft water, even more preferably water from a Highland burn. Such water is not expensive.

I usually just mix a Macallan 18 with Kool-Aid to watch the Scotch snobs' heads explode.

Though I usually mix the Kool-Aid with water from a Highland burn.


Believe it or not, there are premium liquors that are not Scots whisky,


I consider the best whisky to be Crown Royal Special Reserve, which is a Canadian whiskey. Scotch whiskies are harsh by comparison.


The rich are making a great case for confiscatory taxation.

By releasing this new product to appeal to the poor who want to look rich?

Right, conspicuous consumption is very much a thing, buying expensive things for social status / "class" - which is what this company wants to sell, but they're ripping people off. You can tell because any actual quality of the ice is in the $100 big block they buy.

Wait until he realizes how many ice cubes we'll have to steal to buy a fighter jet.

"A sucker is born every minute."

The rich who are stupid enough to buy such a nonsense simply deserve being taxed at the Piketty-esque rates. However, count out the rest of us.

"The rich" don't buy such products...they own the companies that sell them to those who want to appear rich.

"Sell to the masses, live with the classes ...."

Nah, I'm pretty sure all classes of people buy stupid stuff. Whether it is the Brooks Brothers cufflinks or the retro Air Jordans, everyone does it.

“is the most mathematically efficient way to cool your drink.” Incorrect.
Lens shaped is actually the best shape for ice. Cubes cool your drink too slowly. Crushed ice melts and waters down your drink too much. Lens shaped is the perfect solution. See my Kickstarter campaign for more info.


......."a sphere that the company claims “is the most mathematically efficient way to cool your drink” — though probably not so for your bank account -"
Not true. It cools ( and hopefully does not freeze) the Bank Account too.

Seriously people, just buy the mold:

Don't forget to use distilled water.

Not good enough if it's absorbed gas from the air. You need to sonicate while pulling a vacuum, followed by sparging with helium.

Amateurs. You don't know anything about ice.

We are so ashamed.

Thanks! I learned a new word... sparging. I'm not sure when I'm going to use it... but I have it now and no one can take it away from me... not even Piketty with his fancy word tax.

It's the greatest of a group it's not in? Epic grammar fail there.

Interesting how several commenters have decided that this product means that the "rich" should be taxed punitively, whereas we often hear that the rich never spend their capital, and that consumption is great for the economy. So which is it?

I guess in the Puritan Progessive mindset, the better world would be where the rich cannot afford artisanal ice cubes, the money instead goes to some bureaucracy to spend on a Star Trek parody video, and we achieve the Year Zero.

It's pretty simple: the marginal consumption habits of rich people are more vicious than those of the poor.

But not more viscuous, thanks to their perfectly-crafted ice cubes.

Yes, but in the actual Puritan mindset you have a moral obligation to use your money with prudence. That doesn't mean not spending your capital, it means not spending your capital to encourage people to manufacture stupid, wasteful junk.

I assume the Puritan mindset would also disapprove of pretentious umlauts?

I've never been called an umlaut before!

It is difficult not to see this as evidence of rising income inequality.

Wouldn't that depend on how many of these cubes are sold?

This reminds me: Walgreen's has a half-price sale on douche bags.

That "cube" really takes the edge off!

Piketty is shaking his snifter in anger

BTW, Piketty says that a lot of his critics have never read his book. Coincidentally, neither have most of his supporters.


The Emperor's New Cocktail...

I've recently patented a "reverse microwave" that's ideal for quickly cooling premium liquors without diluting them. It's also useful for creating home-made ice cream.

Kickstarter or Indiegogo?

anon quotes Chesterton “To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.” Is he saying only dull people desire to be rich? Who is to decide how much money I should desire not to be considered dull? And how can libertarians pass judgment on rich guys willing to pay $8 for an ice cube in a free market economy?

how can libertarians pass judgment

Libertarians pass judgment all the time. They just don't want the state enforcing it.

Gosh, if all the things I was judgy about got made into law, no one would be able to breath!

I like the quote because it can run in so many different directions -- if you read it kinda British as the only people smart enough to get all that money are the people foolish enough to want it, I'd bet there are thousands of wealthy people who would see wisdom in that.

If you look upon "dull" as narrow in interests, it seems like that's also something a lot of rich people would agree with. I have known some fairly wealthy people that question themselves whether the interests they had to give up to pursue the path of wealth was more of a loss than they should have taken. Of course, they are wealthy enough to now have the luxury of regret, you could say.

Individuals vary, but you can certainly read the quote not as a criticism of the wealthy but as sympathy for them. Which I think many deserve. It's not an easy life, either getting there or living there. Maybe it's snotty to say, but if you find you need to buy $300 ice cubes to try to find a little joy in life, you're in a tough place.

Marie, thanks for the clarification about Chesterton's quote. About the 'need" to buy $300 ice cubes: I don't think it is a question of "need" but one of ability to pay $300 for ice cubes. perhaps one can be proud to be in a position to afford that kind of lifestyle?

No clarification, just opinion. Love your libertarian definition below!

Wouldn't pride be something of a need, though? But in thinking about it, I often buy something goofy just for the fun of it if it's cheap, so I guess I could see some rich guy buying these just for fun because they were chump change for him.

So the libertarian motto is: " you have the right to spend your money any way you want to, even if I think you are being stupid" Makes sense

Ho-hum. CNTRL-F "Veblen Good", "Giffen Good" no hits. TC having a little fun with the econ ignoramuses. Time to move on.

No reason not to link to the original work - The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen,

What makes this particularly piquant is that Veblen's work originated in a time frame with a social and economic structures more closely resembles America's now than that of an autbhor writing in the 1960s.

The sphere really might work.

If you pull down a billion a year an $8 ice cube is trivial if it makes your drink .1% better.

That should be "melting time," not "melting rate."

But doesn't a sphere melt at a slower rate when it is small? Seems so...since surface area to volume is smaller. But your point is well taken.

too late. Apple already got iCE trademarked

I guess I'm the only one that noticed what "marico" means in Spanish? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Ok, ok , ok! Freeze some grapes and use those already. Then the rich can get frozed varietal grapes from the smooth buttocks hills for their drinks.

Ice just takes up precious volume in the glass and scarce time to enjoy the spirits.

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