clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What Happens to Those Sprinkles at LA’s Museum of Ice Cream?

After the Instagram shot, the cleanup begins

Inside the Museum of Ice Cream

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

By now anyone with a social media account has seen countless shots of the sprinkles pool inside Downtown Los Angeles’s Museum of Ice Cream. It’s easily the most-photographed part of the big, wandering, colorful exhibit, and makes up about a hefty portion of all the images collected under the museum’s own hashtag on Instagram. And it seems like so far, nobody has stopped to ask many questions about the sprinkles, like where they come from, what they’re made of, or where they end up when the Instagram shot is gone.

First, know that these are not real sprinkles — as in they aren’t edible. Instead, they’re colorful little plastic nodes treated with Germ Bloc, an anti-microbial agent that gets refreshed daily. Apparently the Museum of Ice Cream actually worked to make sure the sprinkles could be cleaned rather easily (there is a ton of foot traffic through the place, after all). They’re produced by the millions at a factory in Los Angeles.

A lot of what one sees when combing through the Instagram accounts and YouTube vlogs of people who have experienced the Museum of Ice Cream’s sprinkle pool is the aftermath. After all, hot bodies, loose clothing, and millions of little colored pellets do not make for an easy brush-off after the photos have been taken — especially when burying kids up to their necks in the stuff. More often than not, at least some of those sprinkles make it all the way home.

Sometimes that means discovering a loose sprinkle back at a hotel room or at home, but increasingly locals from the Arts District have been finding them on the streets as well. Many times they’re carried in the folds of a customer’s clothing and deposited later on, and other times the sprinkles simply find their way into sidewalk cracks and little-trafficked corners of the industrial district surrounding the building. The Museum says that it hires cleaning crews to do big concentric sweeps around the property the snag any loose sprinkles, but it’s not hard on any given day to go Downtown and see what’s been left behind.

Eater reached out to the Museum of Ice Cream for comment regarding the sprinkles and their proliferation outside the Museum’s walls, and received the following back:

Our employees tell everyone repeatedly to shake off and make sure they get rid of all the extra sprinkles. Before leaving the Museum of Ice Cream, our team members are told to double check guests to make sure everyone has shaken off excess sprinkles.

Of course, some who have passed through the Museum of Ice Cream have been after more than just an Instagram shot, and workers on site report many people simply choosing to walk off with the stuff in their pockets as a sort of personal prize. At the company’s upcoming San Francisco location, there will actually be an air shower available after the pool, meant to blow off excess loose sprinkles before they leave the building.

And so, despite the countless previous baths customers have taken in the 100-million-pieces-deep sprinkle pool, despite the proliferation of the plastic bits in places they probably shouldn’t be, both the Museum of Ice Cream and its resulting Instagram comet tail live on. The Museum has extended its run through October 16 at least, and the Bay Area iteration will open this week — after selling out of tickets in well under an hour. At the end of the day, the photo always wins.

Coming Attractions

Orange County Sensation Heritage Barbecue Is Opening a Taco Shop This Summer

LA Guides

Dive Into a Bangkok Feast at Hollywood’s White-Hot Thai Night Market

LA Pop-Up Restaurants

Cool Food Pop-Ups to Check Out This Week in Los Angeles: February 23