BRUNSWICK, Maine — Red noses and frozen toes left most Mainers seeking a roaring fire and hot chocolate over the holidays, as temperatures fell below zero, even in the southern part of the state.
But savvy sweet-seekers just added one more layer before heading to Gelato Fiasco to take advantage of what the company’s founders have described as an “absurd” deal.
On the first day of winter at Gelato Fiasco’s Brunswick and Portland shops, the Frozen Code takes effect: For every degree the temperature falls below freezing, customers get 1 percent off servings of Red Flannel Whoopie Pie, Fireside Chocolate and Mascarpone Pistachio Caramel gelato.
Last Tuesday, Sean Hobson, 26, was so busy scooping in the Brunswick Gelato Fiasco that he had to ring the kitchen for help, he said.
In fact, in just more than 10 days of winter, the two stores have handed out $3,270 in discounts — “a hefty amount,” marketing director Bobby Guerrette said.
On Saturday, more than 600 people visited the two stores for gelato. Between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday, seven customers each received a 39 percent discount before returning to the -7 degree night.
Hobson keeps a tablet behind the register, and checks the temperature before each sale. The Frozen Code “helps create energy in the stores,” and boosts sales a bit during the winter, Guerrette said.
The most common discount is 30 percent, when the thermometer dips to 2 degrees below zero.
Sarah Stanton, 19, of Massachusetts, visited Gelato Fiasco in Portland with a group of five friends Tuesday during a day trip to Portland.
The discount came as a pleasant surprise, she said. She and her friends said it’s hard to find frozen treats in the cold-weather months.
“Some of our local stores that serve ice cream close in the winter,” said Erin Carlson, 19.
While sales are still slower than an average summer day, winter is the busiest time of year for the company’s wholesale business, making pints for grocery stores to restock in March.
About 30 of the company’s 50 employees work at the Flavor Foundry on Industry Road in Brunswick. Josh Davis and Bruno Tropeano founded Gelato Fiasco in 2007, and the two continue to work to expand the company, which has seen outside investment in recent years.
Although temperatures are expected to rise with the snowfall Thursday and Friday, there’s still plenty of winter to find Frozen Code discounts. In fact, last year’s greatest discount fell on Feb. 10, when temperatures dipped to 1 degree below zero.
With more sub-zero temperatures forecast for later this week, the Frozen Code might be the only solace for frozen gelato lovers trying to survive this winter of discontent.
BDN staff writer Seth Koenig contributed to this report.
Follow BDN Bath-Brunswick on Facebook for the latest news from the Bath-Brunswick area and Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties.