The Dish: How the Scooper Bowl Avoids Meltdowns

And you thought brain freeze was a headache!

At the city’s biggest ice cream event—25 years old this year—vendors from across the country will join together at City Hall Plaza (6/5–6/7) to dish out donated treats, with all proceeds benefiting the Jimmy Fund. Charged with storing the entire 8,800-gallon lot are two 18-wheelers turned makeshift freezers. But different brands of ice cream freeze and taste best at different temperatures, which means crafting a game plan for the Scooper Bowl trucks can be something of a head spinner.

1. Temp Job: While the trucks’ coolers are set at zero degrees Fahrenheit, some ice creams, like Hood, are best served at around 5 degrees; others, like Ben & Jerry’s, are perfect at about 12. And external factors, like proximity to the door (and the steamy June air), have a considerable impact. In order to avoid creamy casualties (too hard, too soft), a vendor has to lobby for the placement that suits his particular blend.

2. Launch Pad: Ten-plus new flavors are expected to debut at the Bowl this year. Arlington creamery Brigham’s will introduce Vanilla Light and Caramel Brownie Light ice creams for the bikini-conscious, while Framingham’s Breyers will whip up Goya Dulce de Leche.

3. Order Up: Fresh tastes don’t get special treatment in the truck, though: It’s only when another vendor joins that the layout gets shifted. Organizers dodged a major rearranging this year, when new vendor Gifford’s (coming in with Lobster Tracks—vanilla with a chocolate éclair swirl and red-dyed white chocolate–coated caramel cups) partnered to share space with longtime participant Garelick Farms.

4. Heavy Hitters: The right serving temperature is based on two things: overrun, a.k.a. the amount of air in the product, and butterfat, which together determine density. Ben & Jerry’s makes heavier ice creams, with low overrun and high butterfat, which is why its Phish Food and Cherry Garcia scoop best at higher temps. They’re stashed at the back of the truck, where they can withstand the blasts of summer heat that hit whenever the loading door is opened.

5. Strong-arm Tactics: The compressors, or cooling units, in both trucks are set to negative 20 degrees for transporting the ice cream and storing it overnight; the temperature is raised the day before crowds start to roll in, to soften things up. Freeze-ups cause slow-moving lines—and have been known to result in cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis for scoopers.

6. Cold Case: Less dense ice creams, like those from Hood, Garelick Farms, and Baskin-Robbins, have a higher overrun, which means they melt more quickly. They’re placed in the coldest spot, at the front of the truck, where they rest at between 4 and 6 degrees.

7. Stuck in the Middle: Edy’s, Häagen-Dazs, and Élan frozen yogurt all fall into the center of the fat-and-overrun range, which makes their midtruck placement ideal. At last! One set of flavors that are right just the way they are.

$7, $3 for ages 3–9; 6/5 and 6/7, 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; 6/6, 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m.; City Hall Plaza, Boston, 617-532-5008,