Ice cream, and its propensity to melt, is one of the few undeniable truths we can hold onto in this world. But every once in a while an undeniable truth must be made deniable.
Two times this week we watched, in collective awe through the spectre of the internet, as ice cream actually refused to melt. We laughed, we cried, we tweeted, we shared.
It all began when Mary Salter, Australian grandmother and Coles grocery store customer, posted on the supermarket’s Facebook page demanding answers. Her grandson, she claims, “threw a skitz” and launched half of his ice cream sandwich into the grass of her yard. Ever the animal lover, Salter left the dairy detritus in her yard for the “cat/ birds/ dogs even - ants maybe,” to consume. But what began as a well-meaning animal offering evolved into a saga about the ingredients of our summertime sweets as she returned four days later to find that the ice cream sandwich refused to melt. There it lay, in broad Australian daylight, retaining something of its original shape. Not cute.
And while Coles responded with a nebulous explanation as to the compounds of their ice cream that prevent it from fully melting, Japanese scientists wowed us with an ice cream that also refuses to melt! But something about this discovery felt more promising.
While experimenting with polyphenol, a liquid extract from strawberries, scientists at Japan's Biotherapy Development Research Centre in Kanazawa city realized that adding the compound to creams caused it to solidify. Thus, non-melting ice cream was born. By adding polyphenol from strawberries to their ice cream mixture, the scientists found that the cool confections melted at much slower rates and could even retain their shape after minutes in the sun.
Unfortunately for us, the research centre is only selling the no-melt lollies in Japan, so ice cream of the melting variety will just have to do for now!