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August 3, 2014 10:49 PM   Subscribe

Q: What happens when you leave a Wal-Mart store brand "Great Value" ice cream sandwich in the sun for 75 minutes?
A: Not what you'd think!

Originally reported on WCPO-9 out of Cincinatti. Wal-Mart explained to them, it's because it contains guar gum and cellulose gum to enable the product to sit on store shelves for weeks without becoming hard.
posted by JHarris (136 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 


Now I want an ice cream sandwich. But not that one.
posted by aubilenon at 11:00 PM on August 3 [9 favorites]


I’d like to see the experiment performed with a control group. This is too much like the McDonald’s burger that doesn’t rot (because like every burger that thin, it dries out first).
posted by Fongotskilernie at 11:01 PM on August 3 [14 favorites]


Flashbacks to Wendy's Frosties. Leave it on the dashboard? No problem! Well, other than your Frostie being hot.
posted by thebrokedown at 11:02 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Brings to mind a story I heard from a colleague at work. Very much 'friend of a friend' stuff, so probably wrong, but it might be relevant.

My friend's wife worked (as an accountant) at a food manufacturing plant, and she told him that super-cheap ice-cream was primarily made from processed pig-fat, not dairy products. If want want to bulk out the milk-fat in an icecream with other fats, I can see pig-fat being a cheaper alternative...
posted by YAMWAK at 11:03 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Fongotskilernie, the main video did compare it to a scoop of Bluebell ice cream, but yes, that doesn't really count because we didn't see the Bluebell scoop originally and they may not have been set out at the same time anyway. So, valid complaint.
posted by JHarris at 11:10 PM on August 3


7 CFR 58.2825 - UNITED STATES STANDARD FOR ICE CREAM.

For a split second, I thought this was going to be an SCP object.
posted by dialetheia at 11:13 PM on August 3 [37 favorites]


YAMWAK, super-cheap ice cream is primarily made from something far cheaper than lard: air.
posted by eschatfische at 11:14 PM on August 3 [18 favorites]


Fascinating article, thanks, eschatfische.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:22 PM on August 3


Whoa! Next you'll tell me that Cool Whip doesn't melt and is not actually whipped cream.
posted by benzenedream at 11:28 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


It's not pig fat (aka lard, which is not any cheaper than dairy products). It's the magic of guar gum and similar emulsifiers. Completely natural, safe to eat, and vegan!
posted by idlewords at 11:51 PM on August 3 [14 favorites]


I scream, you scream, we all scream for FROZEN DAIRY DESERT
posted by Rhaomi at 11:59 PM on August 3 [18 favorites]


given the right temperature, even plastic will melt. He just needs to heat it to a higher temperature.
posted by greenhornet at 12:07 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I'm quite certain that Wendy's Frosties in Canada melt, and rapidly.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:09 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


It's so sad to see Breyer's in all these articles. It used to be a very good brand. Then it got sold to a conglomerate, and it's slowly turned to shit.

If you search the web with the name, you can find lots of postings from about 5-10 years ago with everyone asking "Is my memory wrong, or did something happen?" Unilever happened.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:18 AM on August 4 [43 favorites]


thebrokedown: "Flashbacks to Wendy's Frosties. Leave it on the dashboard? No problem! Well, other than your Frostie being hot."

Ya, I can second that Canadian Wendy's Frostys start melting as soon as they hit the cup.
posted by Mitheral at 12:26 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Just had a bowl of Trader Joe's vanilla ice cream, and it got melty despite the guar gum & carob bean gum.

So I'm suspicious of the chemist quoted in the third link who makes it sound like everybody uses Wal-Mart levels of ice cream stiffeners.
posted by univac at 12:37 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


I remember back in college cleaning out the mini fridge- I found a half eaten 7 layer burrito from the Bell in the back. I was a bit scared of it as I hadn't been there in several months but also curious and so I unwrapped it before throwing it out. From a visual inspection it had become a mummierito. I believe I could have steamed it and gotten a fresh burrito back out of the deal.
posted by mcrandello at 12:38 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Suddenly those extra expensive totally organic ice cream brands found at markets like whole foods seem very much worth it. You know, apart from just that they taste better.
posted by dabitch at 1:05 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Unilever happened.

That's awful, I always like Breyer's. Fuck Unilever, and the "how can I get the numbers up next quarter?" culture that Unilever is just one participant in.
posted by zardoz at 1:08 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


given the right temperature, even plastic will melt. He just needs to heat it to a higher temperature.

Uncertain. He might just end with a guar gum aerogel, or charcoal if he heats it high enough for the next thing to happen.
posted by hattifattener at 1:13 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


I like my summertime icy frozen treats stabilized with GWAR gum.
posted by vapidave at 1:13 AM on August 4 [41 favorites]


Putting a subscribe button over what I assume is the close box for that first caption is genius.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:22 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Also - I expected more sublimation
posted by b1tr0t at 1:26 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Of course gwar gum doesn't melt.
posted by telstar at 1:53 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Just had a bowl of Trader Joe's vanilla ice cream, and it got melty despite the guar gum & carob bean gum.

Ice cream sandwiches might have higher levels of gum in general in order to keep the filling together (and rectangular) during the manufacturing process.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:59 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


THESE DESSERTS DON'T RUN
posted by No-sword at 2:05 AM on August 4 [24 favorites]


From a visual inspection it had become a mummierito. I believe I could have steamed it and gotten a fresh burrito back out of the deal.

I think you just invented Astronaut Burrito™, a tasty freeze-dried treat soon appearing in all major science museum gift shops.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:05 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


My friend's wife worked (as an accountant) at a food manufacturing plant, and she told him that super-cheap ice-cream was primarily made from processed pig-fat, not dairy products.

Was this in the UK? Lard was widely used there, but not (as far as I know) in North America.
posted by jb at 2:05 AM on August 4


Ya, I can second that Canadian Wendy's Frostys start melting as soon as they hit the cup.

Actually, I get Frosties once in a while here in Georgia, in the US, and they seem to melt okay too.

Putting a subscribe button over what I assume is the close box for that first caption is genius.

I wouldn't call it that. If I had found a better demonstation link, I would have linked to it instead, because of shit like the captions, ads and subscribe offers in that video.
posted by JHarris at 2:06 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


An ice cream sandwich that doesn't melt sounds like heaven for me. My sensitive to cold front teeth always ruined them for me when I was a kid.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:12 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I strongly suspected that this would happen, so I call shenanigans on the A: Not what you'd think! link.

To be fair, I also suspected that it might burst into flames or grow wings and fly off, so there is that....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:49 AM on August 4


It's the magic of guar gum

Now I want to play Morrowind again.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:04 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


An ice cream sandwich that doesn't melt sounds like heaven for me.

But imagine what a warm ice cream would be like. It'd be like melted ice cream... but solid. (shudder)
posted by JHarris at 3:13 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Yes but it wouldn't pain my front teeth like literal torture.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:16 AM on August 4


I've bought ice cream sandwiches here in the US that basically taste like cold chewy marshmallow, I just assumed that there was no ice cream in them.
posted by carter at 3:24 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


JHarris, I can't speak for anyone else, but I would probably eat that. Of course, I don't have a functioning shame gland.
posted by dogheart at 3:40 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Ice cream is not in any sense a 'natural' (lol) product anyway, let alone an 'ice-cream sandwich'. Complaining that they've added a stabiliser to it (in any case one made entirely of a natural plant extract if you care about that sort of thing) seems strange.
posted by atrazine at 3:51 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


I LIKE GRAR GUM AND IF YOU DON'T TOO, YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE
posted by NoraReed at 4:12 AM on August 4 [26 favorites]


I made some peach ice cream this weekend. It doesn't melt either, but that's because it gets eaten before it gets warm.
posted by TedW at 4:14 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


An ice cream that doesn't use some form of emulsifier is going to be a ball of ice after a day in a supermarket freezer and requires nearly perfect storage in shipment.

Superpremiums use egg yolks but everything else uses some form of gum.

The issue here is just the proportion of these stabilizers.
posted by JPD at 4:17 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


My friend's wife worked (as an accountant) at a food manufacturing plant, and she told him that super-cheap ice-cream was primarily made from processed pig-fat, not dairy products.

Was this in the UK? Lard was widely used there, but not (as far as I know) in North America.


I was always told when I were a lad, that Wall's got into ice cream making to use up the surplus fat from their sausage operation. And that they added beetroot juice to make the strawberry variety.

Certainly Wall's used to be unlike other ice cream, always in a solid rectangular block. They had cones with a rectangular cross-section so you could slot a block into one.
posted by Segundus at 4:33 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I LIKE GRAR GUM

But science has proven that even comments stabilized with grar gum will get schmoopy when left for 30-40 minutes in a warm-hearted environment....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:50 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]


My friend's wife worked (as an accountant) at a food manufacturing plant, and she told him that super-cheap ice-cream was primarily made from processed pig-fat, not dairy products.

Was this in the UK? Lard was widely used there, but not (as far as I know) in North America.


Yes it was. Interesting, thanks.

I have no idea who the lady accountant was working for, so I can't comment beyond that. I agree that Wall's icecream is / was weird.
posted by YAMWAK at 4:51 AM on August 4


MELT FAST, OR DIE TRYING...
posted by blue_beetle at 5:12 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


My friend's wife worked (as an accountant) at a food manufacturing plant, and she told him that super-cheap ice-cream was primarily made from processed pig-fat, not dairy products.

Was this in the UK? Lard was widely used there, but not (as far as I know) in North America.


You'd think that after the Sepoy Mutiny they'd have learned to not put pig or cow fat where you wouldn't expect them to be.
posted by sukeban at 5:14 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Don't worry guys, the scientists who make cheap ice cream sandwiches are hard at work creating a synthetic meltening agent that will cause their products to explode into a molten chemical slurry when exposed to sunlight.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:23 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


thebrokedown: Flashbacks to Wendy's Frosties. Leave it on the dashboard? No problem! Well, other than your Frostie being hot.

Yeah, no. When you grab a Frosty™ with your Son of Baconator™, you gotta eat the Frosty first, or else you are going to be drinking it. Plus, you get the guilty frisson of eating dessert before dinner, so win-win.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:24 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Breyer's vanilla was the gold standard by which all other vanilla ice creams were measured in my family. There was actual vanilla bean in it. The last time I bought Breyer's I didn't scrutinize the label and wound up with Frozen dairy dessert instead.
posted by usonian at 5:26 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]




Not that they don't deserve a little public flaying, but Walmart's been unfairly singled out here. There are dozens of other cheap ice 'cream' products that also wouldn't melt after an hour left out in the Cincinnati sun. I'd like to see this experiment replicated with a whole bunch of cheap ice cream bars, and maybe a Klondike one too as a control. Maybe Walmart themselves should do this so they can be like, 'see! it's not just us you guys.'
posted by Flashman at 5:48 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


benito.strauss: "It's so sad to see Breyer's in all these articles"

Oh man, I'm glad you posted. I don't eat a lot of ice cream, not more than a couple of times a year, but when I do I usually buy Breyer's, and I had thought I was just getting old or lactose intolerant or something and that's why ice cream wasn't as tasty anymore. SERIOUSLY GOING TO BUY SOME BLUE BUNNY REAL ICE CREAM TODAY.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:53 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


This could have been a "Better Off Ted" episode.
posted by evening at 5:55 AM on August 4 [15 favorites]


Here we have a native ashlander hunting guar for Wal-Mart's ice cream sandwiches.
posted by charred husk at 5:56 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


If you search the web with the name, you can find lots of postings from about 5-10 years ago with everyone asking "Is my memory wrong, or did something happen?" Unilever happened.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa! Are you telling me that Breyer's is now made out of SOAP?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:59 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


An easy way to remember how to spell Cincinnati:

c-i-n
c-i-n-n
posted by cashman at 6:04 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


You're going to have to be more specific than that, or I'm going to use Fibonacci spelling:

cincinncinnncinnnnncinnnnnnnncinnnnnnnnnnnnn...
posted by moonmilk at 6:11 AM on August 4 [45 favorites]


My friend's wife worked (as an accountant) at a food manufacturing plant, and she told him that super-cheap ice-cream was primarily made from processed pig-fat, not dairy products. If want want to bulk out the milk-fat in an icecream with other fats, I can see pig-fat being a cheaper alternative...

The version I heard in the 1990s was about McDonalds thickshakes (and the reason why they're never referred to as milkshakes being the absence of milk in them; sort of like how KFC no longer call themselves Kentucky Fried Chicken because the six-legged, four-winged genetically engineered beasts they use are not legally defined as chickens).

Also: apparently McDonalds apple pies in Australia are not made of apples but of chokos (a far cheaper, flavourless vegetable) stewed in apple sauce.
posted by acb at 6:11 AM on August 4


Looks to be a Japanese lacquer plate he's got that sandwich sitting on. Some soba noodles would look better.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:28 AM on August 4


Unilever has turned many small brands to shit.

And Gwar really missed an opportunity to make Gwar Gum
posted by destro at 6:30 AM on August 4


Ice cream is not in any sense a 'natural' (lol) product anyway

One of the more amusing food categories I've seen recently is "Paleo Ice Cream". Just like Our Savannah Ancestors ate.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:37 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Lard is expensive, it doesn't make sense to make ice cream from lard. (That sounds like something that's supposed to gross people out who don't realize that lard is amazing.)

Some "milkshakes", particularly McDonalds, do contain a lot of corn syrup solids, presumably as thickeners, but they actually have a pretty short ingredient list for a fast-food product. They're also gluten free, at least in their current formulation.

The Egg Nog Shake syrup even actually contains eggs.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:40 AM on August 4


I find it odd that in all this nobody is addressing the issue of the "chocolate" sandwich components of these cheap treats, which seem to be made of the same shit that the gross blind seer in Vikings uses to black his teeth...
posted by nanojath at 6:41 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Based on my experiences walking past walmarts daily I would say that if you leave an ice cream sandwich in the sun for 75 minutes about 13 people will step on it and then swear.
posted by srboisvert at 6:44 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]


Frosties actually melt more than any other fast food shake product. McDonald's shakes melt the least. I remember this from a Zillions magazine (R.I.P.) that I read as a little kid.
posted by HowardLuckGossage at 6:44 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Now I want to play Morrowind again.

When does anyone not want to play Morrowind? I thought it was a constant state of being?

Also Frostys melt instantly once they leave the machine, allowing you to dip your fries in them for super delicious horrible for you treat.
posted by winna at 6:48 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


For $90 no one has to worry about non-melting ice cream. Unless they want to.

Homemade frozen yogurt. Yum.
posted by zarq at 6:52 AM on August 4


To ward off the blues, a heartwarming (not literally) story: there was once a couple who opened an ice-cream parlor in ruined Breslau (Wrocław). Family tradition - the husband, Józef Grycan, together with his father has been making ice-cream in Buczacz in the eastern borderlands of Poland before the war, and has been "repatriated" (forcibly resettled) to the West.
Fast forward 54 years. Their "Zielona Budka" (Green Booth) is a well known and loved traditional quality brand and is nevertheless slowly, but steadily losing its market share to the giants. Instead of giving up or waiting for the inevitable bankruptcy, the current owner, Zbigniew Grycan, son of Józef, sells the brand to his competitors... and after four years spent building a new factory and training the personnel returns with a new brand name. Grycan ice cream has since established itself as the top-notch brand that maybe the Haagen-Dazs can match in terms of quality (at a much higher price though). If I buy any other brands, it's because of their novel varieties, as Grycan is offering mostly the traditional flavors.
posted by hat_eater at 7:00 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


And if you aren't quite $90 flush and can go a bit smaller, this is only $25. (I hereby attest it successfully made a pint of cioccolato fondante gelato two weeks ago, back when my roommate was still out of town and I could declare it ALL MINE.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:02 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


It's so sad to see Breyer's in all these articles. It used to be a very good brand. Then it got sold to a conglomerate, and it's slowly turned to shit.

To be fair, that is what happens to most food.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:10 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


I like how no matter how horrible the chemical and additive list in any given food product or how little a food like product resembles actual food someone invariably points out

But at least it's GLUTEN FREE!!
posted by pwschatz at 7:12 AM on August 4


The skeptics link posted above seems to be missing the point a bit for me - it's not "oh no how unnatural!" that's the problem, or "oh no chemicals!" it's "wow, these guys are really cutting corners with their product...". I don't fear guar gum, but if the ice cream you're making needs stabilising to the point where it doesn't act at all like ice cream any more, I'm not sure it's of a quality where I'd want to eat it.
posted by Dysk at 7:15 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


I think it's more the long periods in the freezer that make larger amounts of guar gum necessary, not the quality of the ice cream (which is probably not great, though).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:19 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


I think the amount of guar gum we're talking constitutes low quality in and of itself, for the sake of stability in (and out of, by the looks of it!) freezers.
posted by Dysk at 7:24 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


It's an ice cream sandwich, for crying out loud. Do you want real ice cream that turns completely liquid after half a minute in the summer heat, or do you want something a kid can actually eat for a few minutes before dropping it on the ground?
posted by uncleozzy at 7:25 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


It's an ice cream sandwich, for crying out loud. Do you want real ice cream that turns completely liquid after half a minute in the summer heat

Yes.

(I tend to be all but allergic to the summer heat and stay out of it as far as possible, so would probably be eating my ice cream sandwich in the shade, if not indoors.)
posted by Dysk at 7:34 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


It's not just the time spent in the freezer -- it's also the time spent on the loading dock. Stabilizers like guar gum help reduce the loss in quality from poor handling at the warehouse and/or store.

I have this issue with my local Trader Joe's -- their ice cream sammiches taste good, but half the time they must have left them out in the aisle for a while while loading the chest freezers, and they develop heinous ice crystals. No thanks.

And on the home ice cream maker front: If I'm spending more than $60 for an ice cream maker, it had damn well better include a compressor so I don't have to remember to freeze the bowl.
posted by pie ninja at 7:47 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


This could have been a "Better Off Ted" episode.

"The company loves its money. If they could, they'd go to strip clubs and throw naked women at money."
posted by Chitownfats at 7:52 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


polymodus: 7 CFR 58.2825 - UNITED STATES STANDARD FOR ICE CREAM.

dialetheia: For a split second, I thought this was going to be an SCP object.

Sadly, I've spent too much time in government, and was well-prepared for something from the Code of Federal Regulations. You're looking for the products distributed from within SCP-1386, or possibly the Klondike bar from Compartment 0000456.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:01 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Ice cream is not in any sense a 'natural' (lol) product anyway,

Ice cream is milk, cream, sugar (or I suppose honey) and vanilla, possibly with fruit added, churned in a chilled container. The only ingredient you couldn't get straight from the natural source is sugar, and that's just a simple extract. There's no ingredient that it would be weird or gross to consume on its own.

Doesn't get much more natural than that. The only way it's not "natural (lol)" is in the same way that cooked food is not natural.

Complaining that they've added a stabiliser to it (in any case one made entirely of a natural plant extract if you care about that sort of thing) seems strange.

I don't think anyone expected cheap ice cream sandwiches to be made with pure and simple ice cream; it's more just surprise at how much stabilizer and how little ice cream there is.

It's so sad to see Breyer's in all these articles. It used to be a very good brand. Then it got sold to a conglomerate, and it's slowly turned to shit.

I don't mind the cheap stuff with lots of additives in any sort of inherent way. But I'm certainly not going to pay Breyers prices for the cheap stuff with lots of additives. Luckily one can still buy milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla, and finding real, simple ice cream is (a) difficult and (b) disheartening. And possibly a Dairy Milk bar (pref. from UK or Canada) frozen hard and whacked to grainy dust in a blender.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:07 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


What, no bentonite?
posted by sneebler at 8:09 AM on August 4


zarq: For $90 no one has to worry about non-melting ice cream.

EmpressCallipygos: And if you aren't quite $90 flush and can go a bit smaller, this is only $25.

Last year, I would have shouted "INFIDELS!" at you both, because the only way to make ice cream is with an ancient, creaky hand-cranking ice cream maker, circa 1972, except the family kit broke last year, and we recently upgraded to a faux-vintage machine, with a wooden bucket but an electric motor. It felt like cheating, but I could get used to just adding ice and salt every few minutes, and not taking turns hand-cranking. I could also get fat and happy that way, so the machine is washed and boxed up, for next year.

If you want to torture children or your friends, say "we can make fresh ice cream!" and bring forth the happy fun ball of delayed and limited gratification, aka the Play and Freeze Ice Cream Ball Ice Cream Maker. Watch as their squeals of joy are melted into sighs of disappointment, as you scoop out a few sad bowls worth of ice cream for half an hour of work.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Ice cream is milk, cream, sugar (or I suppose honey) and vanilla, possibly with fruit added, churned in a chilled container.

I was going to say, ice cream is a lot more natural than most foods. You could probably get something recognizable as ice cream using just milk from a cow, some snow, and some hard work. (What does it taste like with no sweeteners at all?)
posted by smackfu at 8:16 AM on August 4


You need the sugar to prevent crystalization.

Like I said, most Ice Cream in the US has some form of emulsifier in it. Usually Eggs. Only Philly-Style Ice Cream is eggless and it has a shelf life measured in days not weeks - or even a week.
posted by JPD at 8:17 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Last year, I would have shouted "INFIDELS!" at you both, because the only way to make ice cream is with an ancient, creaky hand-cranking ice cream maker, circa 1972.

My grandparents had one of those. Making ice cream was like churning butter.

Except the family kit broke last year, and we recently upgraded to a faux-vintage machine, with a wooden bucket but an electric motor. It felt like cheating, but I could get used to just adding ice and salt every few minutes, and not taking turns hand-cranking. I could also get fat and happy that way, so the machine is washed and boxed up, for next year.

Yeah, we mostly only use it to make fruity frozen yogurt. I like being able to fit through doorways.
posted by zarq at 8:19 AM on August 4


(What does it taste like with no sweeteners at all?)

Ice milk.
posted by zarq at 8:19 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Fuck Unilever, and the "how can I get the numbers up next quarter?" culture that Unilever is just one participant in.


Sad thing is, Unilever, P&G, Kraft/Mondelez and the like usually aren't even very good at that.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:19 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Hell, if you're willing to allow sorbets into the party, then all you need is fruit, water, and sugar. That's the bulk of what I've been doing with my mini-ice-cream-maker - this has been the Year Of Sorbets. A lot of the CSA fruit that I don't know what else to do with ends up in sorbets and I get very happy. And you can't get more natural than fruit.

You can also make a decent ice cream out of coconut milk and sugar and that's it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on August 4


in sorbets pectin fills the role of the stabilizers. Or occasionally that's why you'll see a recipe call for liquor if the fruit is low in pectin.
posted by JPD at 8:23 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


(What does it taste like with no sweeteners at all?)

Ice milk.


See, that's what I thought, but according to Wikipedia, "ice milk" is ice cream with less fat, like using skim milk.
posted by smackfu at 8:23 AM on August 4


Great Value is generally hit or miss. For example, the cereal bars are OK, but the condensed soups are just awful.

The idea that Wal-Mart actually produces anything in the Great Value brand line up is inaccurate. Like many stores with private label products, they outsource the majority of these items through a bidding process to other companies. Sometimes the winner is a decent manufacturer, who likely has their own brand and wants to make consistent volume-driven sales, but other times its people just getting into the market or field and completely low balling the competition to gain a foothold with a major retailer like Wal-Mart. And sometimes, through ignorance or cutting corners, the quality is... questionable.

Regardless, the buyers at any store which outsources private label items are more concerned with how the packaging meets their standards and ensuring the product meets the price point than anything else. Sure, there is due diligence to ensure that the product is safe and meets all legal standards, but the main stress is simply on the supplier to provide all required testing and safety documents. If anything goes wrong, a retailer such as Wal-Mart has these test reports and other documents, and they pass along any damages back to the supplier.

The average customer at Wal-Mart, especially those purchasing Great Value items are more interested in price than quality. The company and the buyers know this, and they aren't concerned so much with consistency in the product as they are in providing consistency in the price. This is why sometimes store brand products seem to fluctuate in quality and appearance.

If there's one group that Wal-Mart treats worse than its employees, it's their suppliers. Impossible demands for pricing, which they can get away with based on their size and reputation. Sometimes, they'll leverage their size against a supplier and force down the supplier's profit on one item to 0.00 (after costs), or even a small loss in order for the supplier to keep another high performing item in stores at the regular price.

Behind the Smiley-face "Roll Back" mask is a knife-wielding sociopath.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:24 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Yeah, considering how Walmart pushes around established brands, I can't imagine how they treat their generic suppliers, who can be replaced on a whim.
posted by smackfu at 8:35 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Walmart's been unfairly singled out here

Technically impossible and akin to complaints that all known religions are hurting Satan's feelings.
posted by elizardbits at 8:35 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Best alternative to ice cream sandwiches:

- vanilla ice cream from Costco (or Häagen-Dazs)
- Safeway 50 cookie count (whatever variety floats your boat)
- scoop ice cream on a cookie, place another cookie on top, SMUSH and consume.

Yum!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:42 AM on August 4


But imagine what a warm ice cream would be like.

I actually have a recipe for a hot ice cream.

I think it's more the long periods in the freezer that make larger amounts of guar gum necessary, not the quality of the ice cream (which is probably not great, though)

Yeah. It helps prevent ice crystal formation, which would leave the ice cream feeling rough/gritty on your tongue instead of creamy.

Nothing beats liquid nitrogen ice cream, though.

Ice cream is milk, cream, sugar (or I suppose honey) and vanilla, possibly with fruit added, churned in a chilled container.

Egg yolks, forgot egg yolks. And I dunno bout you guys but when I make ice cream it's cream all the way. Low fat ice cream is an abomination.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:43 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I used to be a big fan of Breyer's Ice Cream too. But I stopped buying it years ago when they started making it with all kinds of horrible tasting additives and it stopped being ice cream and just became frozen Cool Whip which I hate with the heat of a thousand suns. I really miss it.
posted by marsha56 at 8:45 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


P&G did all the research in the eighties to make ice cream that was shelf stable at room temperature, but the product was too unpalatable to be worth marketing. If your ice cream wont melt why not just make another hydrox knockoff?
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:48 AM on August 4


According to the Breyers FAQ: "The ultimate measure of consumer feedback is whether our consumers are purchasing the product. Breyers Blasts!, which has a Frozen Dairy Dessert standard of identity, is the most popular and fastest-growing segment of our business."

In other words, you like it.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:51 AM on August 4


Egg yolks, forgot egg yolks.

There are a couple of schools of thought about that. One style of ice cream does require egg yolk or some other emulsifier; another style does not.

And I dunno bout you guys but when I make ice cream it's cream all the way. Low fat ice cream is an abomination.

The amount of fat can throw off whether an ice cream freezes properly. Yeah, the more butterfat the better, but throw that off too much and you got problems. ...interestingly, one of the things I've learned about "what makes gelato different from ice cream" is that gelato has less butterfat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on August 4


They're slightly off though. It's whether consumers are purchasing the product repeatedly, no?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:54 AM on August 4


atrazine: "Ice cream is not in any sense a 'natural' (lol) product anyway, let alone an 'ice-cream sandwich'. Complaining that they've added a stabiliser to it (in any case one made entirely of a natural plant extract if you care about that sort of thing) seems strange."

Ice cream is about as natural as bread but I don't want my baker dipping my rolls in shellac (a 100% natural ingredient that just needs harvesting) to make them last longer. It's a matter of degrees.
posted by Mitheral at 9:06 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


All this way into the thread, and still no mention of one of my favorite political urban legends.
posted by gimonca at 9:08 AM on August 4


Whether or not it's true, "Ice Cream Innovator" doesn't have the same ring as "Milk Snatcher," sorry.
posted by elizardbits at 9:12 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


"Natural" isn't a very good term to use here. But we don't (yet) have a good, simple term to distinguish "ingredients that contribute to good taste and health" versus "ingredients that facilitate manufacture and large-scale distribution".

Sometimes you can get both, but frequently the former is sacrificed for the latter.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:13 AM on August 4


Breyer's mint chocolate chip was the best.

.
posted by rtha at 9:13 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Clearly more testing is needed. For example, how does this material match up against space shuttle thermal tiles?
posted by ckape at 9:17 AM on August 4


Yeah rtha, that was one of my favorites too. Mint choc. chip, strawberry, vanilla, butter pecan. All so yummy.
posted by marsha56 at 9:17 AM on August 4


Correcting a bit of garbled misinformation in that Margaret Thatcher article - it sounds kind of like they're claiming that "soft-serve" ice cream is ice cream with excess air whipped in. And that's not the case - all ice cream is soft-serve style when you first take it out of the churn. That's why home ice cream makers recommend that you scoop it into a container and put it back in the freezer for a couple hours if you want more "ice cream" consistency.

Mind you, there are indeed plenty of companies who whip excess air into their product; any non-premium ice cream is probably giving you a greater volume of air than Ben & Jerry's or Haagen-Dasz is. But whipping extra air into ice cream isn't what makes it "soft-serve" is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


zardoz: Fuck Unilever, and the "how can I get the numbers up next quarter?" culture that Unilever is just one participant in.

TheWhiteSkull: Sad thing is, Unilever, P&G, Kraft/Mondelez and the like usually aren't even very good at that.

At some point, you can no longer cut quality towards increasing gains. I imagine most major mega-companies are already at that point, but I'm sure there are still chemists looking for a cheaper way to make processed foods. After all, those guys at Madrigal shaved a few cents off their dipping sauces, so there's that.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


For $90 no one has to worry about non-melting ice cream. Unless they want to.

I don't understand how you folks have room for these in your freezers. Mine is stuffed so full that I can barely fit ice cube trays in.
posted by maryr at 9:34 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Nothing beats liquid nitrogen ice cream, though.

How difficult and/or dangerous is this, for someone who has to ask how difficult and/or dangerous this is?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:41 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Dysk: The skeptics link posted above seems to be missing the point a bit for me - it's not "oh no how unnatural!" that's the problem, or "oh no chemicals!" it's "wow, these guys are really cutting corners with their product...".

This. No one said anything about how "natural" it is before atrazine's strangely dismissive comment (lol). The point of the original videos is that, in the name of preserving it on store shelves, they've modified their product so that it doesn't act how people expect it to anymore.

This happens all the time with lots of stuff, and has for decades. It's just rarely brought home to us so vividly how degraded our foodstuffs have become in the name of mass commerce.

RobotVoodooPower: In other words, you like it.

To put it another way, don't abuse second person. Because I certainly don't like it.
posted by JHarris at 9:46 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


EMcGee: I don't eat a lot of ice cream, not more than a couple of times a year ...

pie ninja: Stabilizers like guar gum help reduce the loss in quality from poor handling at the warehouse and/or store.

I also eat ice cream rarely, so my style was to pay more for a small amount, but get really high-quality. Ben & Jerry's used to work well for me, especially when I wanted something with gloppy mix-ins along with the ice cream itself still being great.

A few years ago I got a series of pints that just didn't seem as good — like the waffle cone bits were soggy, or there was noticeable ice crystallization. I searched a bit, and it turns out I had been Unilevered again, this time not in the ingredients list, but in the distribution network. See, for a long time Ben & Jerry's ran their own distribution network. Remember the Ben & Jerry's decorated delivery vehicles? We certainly had them in the Boston area. When was the last time you saw one? They're gone.

It seems that as part of being bought by Unilever* they consolidated their distribution.:
Sean Greenwood, Ben & Jerry’s director of communications, confirms that Vermont’s Finest has closed down its in-house distribution network and turned “the majority of Ben & Jerry’s product distribution in Vermont” over to Thibodeau’s.

As Greenwood explains, Ben & Jerry’s has always been a manufacturing company first. For the last 15 years, the company has handled its own wholesale distribution within Vermont and some surrounding areas.

“But it’s like every other business,” he says. “It continues to grow and evolve and change.”

Thibodeau’s is a family-run company that’s been around since 1909, Greenwood says, with all the necessary warehouse space, trucks and staff to do the job. Thibodeau’s already handles New England distribution for other ice cream brands made by Unilever — the Anglo-Dutch multinational that purchased Ben & Jerry’s in 2000 — including Breyer’s, Good Humor, Klondike, Popsicle and Starbucks.
The linked article deals with how the change has made Ben & Jerry's unavailable to some stores, but my guess is that it's also hurt the distribution quality. More time sitting around, and less attention to where it sits around would explain the drop in quality. The spokesman who says "we're really just a manufacturing company" doesn't seem to understand how food works.

I imagine that at Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam there is a huge banner across the front entrance that says "De Daling in Kwaliteit Zult Je Niet Merken."

* Yes, that's who now owns Ben & Jerry's. I feel like I need to apologize to Vermont MeFites for mentioning it.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:50 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


How difficult and/or dangerous is this, for someone who has to ask how difficult and/or dangerous this is?

It is dead simple and not terribly difficult - you could do it with a Scout troup, but you'd have an adult do most of the pouring. One of the dorms used to make liquid nitrogen ice cream regularly (like every few hours) during rush at MIT.

Even setting the cost/availability of the liquid nitrogen aside (let's say you can steal it from a lab - you don't need much so it's usually not hard to get away with. I have no idea how to get it if you don't have a biology/physics lab connection), the trick is the expensive of the equipment - you need a good dewer to keep the LN2 long enough to use it. Personally, I'd recommend a pair of good gloves for the safety of kids stirring - the gloves aren't strictly necessary, but I wear them when pouring LN2.
posted by maryr at 9:57 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Seconding maryr. Liquid nitrogen ice cream was actually a thing as far back as 1900; here's a cool blog post about that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:02 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


benitio.strauss, you should be hitting up your local ice cream chain for good ice cream anyway - Christina's, Tosci's, and J. P. Licks will pack a pint for you. Tipping Cow can be found at farmer's markets and is AMAZING (at least, the ginger berry is). I'm a little obsessed with them at the moment.
posted by maryr at 10:02 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my daughter and there's the part where grandpa Joe is telling Charlie all about Willy Wonka's amazing creations-- including ice cream that you can leave in the hot sun all day, and it won't go runny. Every time I read that part I think to myself "why would I want to eat that?"
posted by brevator at 10:05 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


How difficult and/or dangerous is this, for someone who has to ask how difficult and/or dangerous this is?

Basically what maryr said. At least here in Toronto--and I imagine would be the same for other medium-to-large cities--there's a company that supplies all sorts of frozen stuff for events and foodservice; mass quantities of ice, sculptures, dry ice, and liquid nitrogen. They'll provide it to you in a Dewar. The only thing is you'll definitely get more than you could possibly need.

The method is pretty simple. Make your standard ice cream base with egg yolks/sugar/cream, and then whatever flavourings you want to add. Vanilla, say. Once the custard has been cooked, put it in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Start the paddle going, then slowly pour in your nitrogen. Don't go too fast or it'll freeze solid and possibly destroy your mixer's motor. Ready to eat immediately, or you can pop in the freezer for later. Mix in any solid chunky bits after the nitro. There's also nitro-specific recipes all over the intarwebs.

One thing you can do to minimize wastage of the actual nitro is to couple the ice cream with some batch cooking of meals for later. Use the nitro to flash freeze, then store in the freezer as you normally would.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:06 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


And, sorry, I had a brainfart; you'll want to add chunky bits along with the nitro. I have no idea why I typed 'after.'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:46 AM on August 4


Probably because most of your brain was thinking about delicious ice cream.
posted by elizardbits at 11:53 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


He got brainfarts because his brain was thinking about ice cream?

Lactose intolerance sucks.
posted by aubilenon at 1:07 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


It melted, it just retained its shape. Due to the gums and emulsifiers as mentioned. If he tried to pick it up, it would have been a goopy mess.

God, I can already hear the smug bastards queuing up for the 45 minute wait for a scoop of Deer Blood flavored Salt & Straw ice cream here in Portland.. "I prefer an iced cream that melts in the sun, thank you."

Portland, bringing you wildly overrated comfort foods disguised as gourmet since 2003.
posted by mediocre at 2:00 PM on August 4


Oh please, Portland is so nouveau. San Francisco's been doing this shit since the 70s, so don't go feeling all superior about your Portlandia, mediocre!
posted by rtha at 2:17 PM on August 4


San Francisco has It's-It, which I am now violently missing because of this post.

I don't dare do any further searches about It; I'm afraid that It might have been bought by Unilever.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:23 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Wall's used to be unlike other ice cream, always in a solid rectangular block. They had cones with a rectangular cross-section so you could slot a block into one.

I remember those! It was like Lego ice-cream.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:49 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I used to be a big fan of Breyer's Ice Cream too. But I stopped buying it years ago when they started making it with all kinds of horrible tasting additives and it stopped being ice cream and just became frozen Cool Whip which I hate with the heat of a thousand suns. I really miss it.

Question is, did it melt under the heat of those thousand suns?
posted by ambivalentic at 3:46 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Busted! They had to exaggerate just a little too much. There is no way the air temp was 80 degrees! Water bills at 100, so clearly a bogus report.

GOSH
posted by clvrmnky at 6:17 PM on August 4


Okay I need one of you geniuses to explain fried ice cream to me. I get that it's wrapped in filo pastry but I still don't understand it. What sorcery is at work here?
posted by um at 6:23 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


It's mostly just a matter of relative temperatures.

You take your ice cream, then either bread it with the standard flour/egg/breadcrumb trick or wrap it in pastry. Then you freeze the whole thing as fast and as hard (low temp) as you can. Ice cream goes straight from freezer into fryer, just long enough to defrost and crisp the outside. Serve immediately. The shell provides a little insulation--almost like a baked Alaska--which lets this sorcery work.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:17 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


clvrmnky, Fahrenheit.
posted by Dysk at 4:07 AM on August 5


What would happen if you breaded the ice cream with breadcrumbs made of stale previously unfrosted cake? Would the moisture/sugar content be a problem?
posted by elizardbits at 7:09 AM on August 5


I don't think it would be (you can use brioche crumbs for dessert breading for example). In fact the sugars would help browning and crisping happen faster.

pls report back with your findings kthx
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:52 AM on August 5


Dysk, joke.
posted by maryr at 8:01 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Is the ice cream really flavored with deer blood? That is pretty hardcore.
posted by maryr at 8:02 AM on August 5


Instructions unclear, freezer stuck in fryer.
posted by um at 5:58 PM on August 5


Ice Cream is neither ice nor cream; Discuss!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:54 AM on August 6


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