Shipping to rural Alaska
August 3, 2013 7:06 PM   Subscribe

This may seem strange, but I would really like to ship some ice cream from Oklahoma to Alaska, and I know it must be possible, but it seems like a logistic nightmare.

I live in rural Alaska, where everything arrives by air or water. Water takes 10 days, but that's how our ice cream shop and grocery store get their frozen goods...but the selection is inadequate and requires that whatever you send be in Seattle.

If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them.
posted by maleru to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It would probably be cheapest for you to fly to Oklahoma, pack the ice cream with dry ice (respecting the FAA restrictions on such) and carry it onto the flight back.

Alternately determine what the store is in Seattle that they source from, and place a special order with THEM so your ice cream can take the slow boat up (presumably in a powered cooler)
posted by arnicae at 7:27 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

How rural is rural? If you google shipping ice cream with dry ice +Alaska you'll find that some places will even ship to Alaska using dry ice and a cooler (even USPS is ok with dry ice if packaged well). It is pretty normal to ship fish this way from Alaska- I have had a shop do this for me, from Anchorage- but if your particular location adds more than an extra day of travel past Anchorage maybe not so much.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:33 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I definitely second working with the distributor in Seattle to do this.

Though I have to say, even OK->Seattle seems like a bit of a stretch for something this fragile. Some places that do shipping of things that have to stay cold continuously won't do it, even with dry ice, more than one or two zones away (or just won't do it in the summertime.) At one point in my life I actually worked at a warehouse here in OH that only exists because shipping their fragile, must-stay-cold goods from Oregon to anywhere much past the Rockies was deemed less realistic than just duplicating their entire distribution system in a state where no one in the company had any experience whatsoever.
posted by SMPA at 7:56 PM on August 3, 2013

It's not clear whether there's someone in OK who can cold pack it for you. If so, then sending it via FedEx or UPS would seem to be an option if they deliver to your location within a reasonable time frame at an affordable cost.
posted by Dansaman at 8:16 PM on August 3, 2013

When I worked for an ice cream factory, occasionally I would have to mail a couple of pints to someone. Company protocol was: 1. pack the ice cream into a styrofoam cooler along with 1-2 pounds dry ice per pint. 2. Seal the cooler by taping all the way around the lid's seam with packing tape, twice. 3. Drop off at the FedEx office for next-day shipping.
posted by hishtafel at 8:22 PM on August 3, 2013

Does Alaska Air serve your community? You can ship cargo (or even checked luggage) frozen through them. I believe Era also has a similar program.
posted by charmcityblues at 9:14 PM on August 3, 2013

You might want to check to see how they do it (styrene cooler and tons of dry ice). I put the zip code for Denali National Park into their shipping calculator and it didn't have a problem with it and even gave me an option to ship overnight. They're located on the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin, so not exactly close to a major city, but they managed to get some superman ice cream to my house in California in October unmelted and delicious.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

In rural Alaska you would Goldstreak it. It's the most reliable way to ship perishables by far. Someone has to buy it, pack it and drop it off but there are some concierge services in Anchorage that will do that for you if you don't have friends there and I bet a lot of stores will too.
posted by fshgrl at 10:14 PM on August 3, 2013

Can you typically buy milk, heavy cream, eggs, fruit, chocolate, cookies, etc.? How about just buying an ice cream maker and whipping up a custom batch when you feel like it? It's pretty dang easy.
posted by jon1270 at 2:48 AM on August 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

What if you talk to the ice cream shops where you are and see if THEY can place a special order from some source that you designate? It would ship along with all their other goods and you would buy it at the shop.
posted by CathyG at 8:35 AM on August 4, 2013

What kind of magic fairy dust do they put in the ice cream from OK that you must get it from there? No, really, I'm genuinely curious; if this is that important that you're willing to go through these kind of hoops to ship it, I'm starting to wonder if I'm missing out on some revelatory ice cream eating experience. :)

Unfortunately, I'm no logistics expert. If it were me, I'd look at seeing if I can get some Tillamook Ice Cream shipped from Seattle. It's my favorite local brand from that area, and is probably more likely to reach you intact. Barring that, the suggestion from jon1270 to make your own is also good; I love making ice cream with my electric ice cream maker every so often.
posted by Aleyn at 8:43 PM on August 4, 2013

You can get most kinds of ice cream in ANC or Fairbanks. You get it to the bush the same way you get any of the other perishables everyone around you gets it, on Era or PenAir in a cooler checked with your luggage or packaged by a friend for shipment. For a big enough order I'm sure Fred Meyer offers a service for this. Those carriers are totally used to dealing with frozen meat and other perishables. You don't even need dry ice -- regular ice packs do fine for a 2-3 hour flight. I've carried plenty of frozen food that way to and from villages and ANC/FAI. It's not challenging conceptually at all. You seem to be over thinking a bowl of ice cream here. Ask a Native how they do it in your community, as Alaska Natives tend to move a lot of frozen meat around the state and tend to have expertise in this.

Where in "rural Alaska" is there an ice cream shop? I spend a lot of time in rural Alaska and have never seen such a wondrous thing.

Seconding "why Oklahoma?" That's asking for trouble. I've seen dozens of kinds of ice cream in Fairbanks big box stores.

Of course you could always ask a local Yup'ik or Inupiaq friend for some "Eskimo ice cream." If you have to ask what it is, you probably won't like it though.
posted by spitbull at 12:43 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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