Trust the Science: Cool treats and STEM feats at Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream

Shown are Mark and Rita McCabe, owners of Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream at 83 Main Street in Downtown Nashua.

What do sharks and ice cream have in common? I’ll give you a second to ponder that one.

Give up? Ask Rita and Mark McCabe. They’re the owners of Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream, which recently moved into the sweet spot of the historic Panagoulas building, at the corner of Water and Main streets. 

The McCabes got into the business by way of the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank, when Sub Zero founders Jerry and Naomi Hancock appeared on the investment show in 2013. The McCabes saw the episode and were intrigued by the franchising opportunity. Both worked at BAE and saw this as a new direction (though Mark still works several days at the defense titan).

They opened their inaugural and successful Amherst Street location seven years ago, and are now excited to be part of our vibrant Downtown Nashua community. In addition to the 83 Main Street store, the McCabes also have a store in Worcester, Mass., with a second on the way in that city, as well as in Cambridge, Mass., and here in the Granite State in Manchester. They are also the New England regional managers and area developers for the company. 

You’d think managing those stores and determining future local franchisee acceptance would keep them busy enough. But Rita McCabe tells us they also have a very robust events schedule, bringing Sub Zero’s unique nitrogen-frozen ice cream to weddings, reunions, corporate events, mitzvahs, and other catering needs. They’ve also partnered with Fright Kingdom on Simon Street for several “chilling” events there, too.

Team member Louis Cole shows how it’s not just scooping pre-made ice cream at Sub Zero.

And don’t forget the students! Sub Zero ice cream is created by science, so they have a big commitment to fun and educational STEM experiences for kids. Rita and Mark tell us that they do liquid nitrogen demonstrations for homeschooler groups, as well as on-site schoolkids and at libraries.

Rita even did a few examples of what liquid nitrogen can do for this reporter, who’s long in the tooth for education, but found the experiments really delightful and surprising. She showed me the difference between what happens when you toss liquid nitrogen on a hard surface versus a soft carpet; and what happens to a hapless gummy bear who takes a dip. No spoilers! 

Sub Zero Nashua owner Rita McCabe dazzles some students with the science behind liquid nitrogen ice cream.

It was almost too late in the gobbling of this delicious Ube-flavored ice cream before the reporter remembered to take a photo…

Then of course, I got to try the actual product. Sub Zero ice cream is made to order – “Imagine an ice cream shop with no freezers,” says Mark – as fresh cream has your requested flavors and add-ins folded in, and is then mixed with a touch of liquid nitrogen. The resulting treat is denser and creamier than standard-made ice cream; Mark explains that because there’s no air whipped into it, it’s more dense and also melts slower. Who knew learning could be so delicious?

I got to try a vibrantly purple Ube-flavored sample. Ube is Japanese sweet potato that tastes just like a certain Danish cookie that comes in a metal tin container (that 9 times out of ten contains sewing materials when you go to your grandma’s). It was truly delicious! The texture is so creamy and packed with flavor.

Sub Zero can accommodate nearly all food allergies. They offer keto, vegan and dairy-free fare in their 50 flavors and 35 mix-ins. There’s also “nitro breath” cheeseball-sized bites that “smoke” when you eat them, ice cream cakes and pies to pre-order for events, and real fruit smoothies and shakes. 

The Nashua store is open until at least 9 pm every day, so it’s always time for ice cream. Be your own “flavor artist,” as Mark heard it described. Order ahead of time online for pickup, order at the counter, or have it delivered by DoorDash, Grubhub or Uber Eats.

And don’t be afraid to try a little sweet potato ice cream.


Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream

83 Main Street, Downtown Nashua
(603) 943-8491
Website, Facebook


Sub Zero is looking for enthusiastic, fun people to work at their Nashua and upcoming Manchester stores.
Do you have a passion for creating a fun experience for ice cream lovers?
Do you like science and presentation?
Shoot the McCabes an email and express your interest in joining their team!

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