Is this the biggest news story you’ll read today? Of course not. But also yes. Yes if you love ice cream and have somehow not noticed this phenomenon in the past which is currently plaguing homeowners in the Mid-west.
Deep in the balmy wilds of Cincinnati, a mother recently alerted her local media to a curious and devilish occurrence – her son had taken a Great Value brand ice cream sandwich, purchased from and manufactured for Wal Mart, and left it outside in the summer heat for a solid 12 hours during which time it did not melt. How, she wondered, is it possible that an ice cream sandwich doesn’t melt after 12 hours being outside in the middle of July?
We want our cream sloppy!
Now here’s the spot where we pause the article because, if you are an ice cream fan and the person in your home who shops for ice cream, you probably understand what happened here and have known about this for years. How this lady in Cincinnati and her local media missed it is a bit perplexing, but it also means maybe a lot of you out there aren’t aware of what happened to the world of ice cream not so long ago (relative to human history).
See, the thing is this – Ice cream is a bit of a misnomer these days, especially that cream part. Actual ice cream can be made with pretty much nothing but dairy and sugar. If you have buttermilk, butterfat and cream, some sugar, a little salt and flavoring, you have ice cream, in the traditional sense. You just freeze it to get that ice part down. But manufacturers noticed that a lot of that stuff is way more expensive than fillers and stabilizers that can mimic the texture of ice cream, things like gum base, which keep it in a semi solid state long after it’s been taken out of the freezer. A Great Value ice cream sandwich from Wal Mart contains guar gum, which has 8 times the water thickening ability of cornstarch, carob bean gum which prevents “weeping” by slowing and shrinking ice crystal formation, and cellulose gum which helps bind everything together whether it’s frozen or not as well as carrageenan which is used to thicken and gel products. All of that means probably more than half of your Wal Mart great Value ice cream is not ice cream but stuff added to make it stay looking and feeling like ice cream no matter water. Consider it the food equivalent of a boob job and a facelift that refuses to let grandma age. Or thaw out.
So now you know the terrible truth. If you put a pint of expensive, high-fat delicious Häagen-Dazs out on the driveway, it’ll melt fast because you paid for real ice cream and that stuff melts. If you drop an ice cream sandwich – eh, maybe it gets squishy, because you paid for a super stable chemical soup that fits between sludgey cookie segments. In ice cream, as all things, you get what you pay for.