Ice cream melts on hot days. It’s a universal law.
Or is it?
A woman in Australia left an ice cream sandwich out in the sizzling heat for an entire weekend and it didn’t melt. Meanwhile, a company in Japan claims it has developed its own non-melting ice cream using an unexpected secret ingredient. Parents with ice cream-loving toddlers dripping all over the back seat are probably thrilled but dry cleaners may want to sue. Meanwhile, the rest of us want to know what’s in this stuff, why it’s breaking a universal law and if it’s safe to eat.
According to news.com.au, Mary Salter of Grafton, NSW, watched her grandson toss away an ice cream sandwich that had broken in half. One piece landed on a lawn and the other on cement, so the nice grandma left them on the ground.
“I thought I would leave the pieces for the cats/birds/dog even — ants maybe? I have watched with interest that none of the above would go near it — not even the ants. The (?) ice cream has not melted and there the two pieces sit. Now I am a little concerned just what is in this ‘treat’.”
That’s what Mary posted on the Facebook page of Coles, the supermarket where she paid $3 for a pack of four Coles brand ice cream sandwiches. While Mary loves cats/birds/dogs/ants, she no longer feels the same about Coles.
“Can you please explain why after four days in 26-degree (79 F) heat on cement it has not melted or nothing has volunteered to eat it … [It is] still in direct sun, still not melted away, still ants fleeing in terror!”
Despite Mary’s tone, a Coles spokesperson cordially responded with the company’s explanation for the mysterious non-melting treat:
“Our ice cream sandwiches make use of very simple, commonly-used food techniques that help slow the melting process, and allows you to consume it without it falling apart in your hands. This technique includes adding thickener to the cream, creating a honeycomb-like structure which helps to slow the melting process. When the product starts to melt and liquid evaporates, you are left with what appears as foam.”
That may have satisfied Mary and other Coles customers eating those bargain eternally-solid ice cream sandwiches, but what about people in Japan who are being asked to try a non-melting ice cream developed by the Biotherapy Development Research Centre? Researchers there were working with strawberry polyphenol liquid (yum) in baked goods as a way to help strawberry farmers still trying to recover from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. One chef found that strawberry polyphenol made dairy cream solidify instantly – not a good thing for cream puffs.
Fortunately, the researchers followed a little-known ancient maxim that when life gives you solid cream, make non-melting ice cream. They added strawberry polyphenol to ice-cream-on-a-stick and found that the treats stayed solid for at least five minutes – more than enough time to lick to the stick – in hot 82-degree weather and still tasted “cool.” According to the Asahi Shimbun, the treats have been on the market in Japan since April.
Will Mary Salter’s grandson like the polyphenol-laden non-melting ice cream pops? Probably. The real mystery is whether cats, birds, dogs and ants will like them. What if they don’t?
What if they do? What else will they make us change for them?
Why are we messing with universal laws?