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Why We All Scream for Ice Cream (and Gelato)

13 Sep, 2013
/ by Jillian Mead/
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For most Americans, ice cream conjures a deep-seated nostalgia. 

Ask somebody to share their earliest memories of it, and they’ll likely reveal a wistful smile while recalling a fond childhood memory. 

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Just what is it about ice cream (and these days, gelato too) that is so appealing?  While chocolate chip cookies and apple pie are forever favorites, there’s something about ice cream that makes it almost universally irresistible. 


The allure can’t simply be that it tastes good.  Products like freeze-dried “Astronaut Ice Cream” are fun to try and taste just like normal ice cream, but the novelty wears off quickly and deems such concoctions non-craveable.  So is it the creamy texture that gets us hooked?  If so, frozen yogurt or other frozen desserts with a similar smooth and melting consistency would be able to knock ice cream off its pedestal.  But this, too, isn’t the case.  Frozen yogurt may be a decent stand-in for ice cream or gelato, but there really is no substitute.  When you want ice cream, you nothing else will do.


When scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia conducted research on why certain foods hold more appeal than others, they found that ice cream’s particular allure resides in its distinctive combination of taste and texture and the way it morphs during the experience of eating.  The sensation that arises during ice cream’s beguiling transformation from solid to melt-in-your-mouth, coupled with its great taste and aroma, is the source of its attraction.


For those of us that make our own gelatos and ice creams, it’s important to invest not only in fresh, high-quality ingredients, but also in creating the ideal textural balance that is so important to achieving frozen perfection.

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