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Stop Engineering the Fun Out of Ice Cream

Tech bros and wellness brands, keep your adaptogens and proteins out of my frozen dessert

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Benchaporn Maiwat/Shutterstock

Someday when historians look back at this era for a distinctive thread in food culture, there’s no doubt that one of the hallmarks of the period will be the influence of wellness and attempts to “hack” food. (This is, after all, is the age of the meatless, “bleeding” burger, Soylent, and faux sushi.) But there’s one food sector that’s increasingly being bombarded with new brands and it simply has got to stop. Tech bros and wellness types: You can have your vegetable-based meat replacement products and scientifically leavened sourdough breads, but politely keep your damn innovating hands off ice cream.

Admittedly, some changes are good. Nitrogen ice cream may be gimmicky, but it’s also silky smooth. Vegan ice cream can be quite delicious. Sure, mold your favorite frozen treat into an adorable shar-pei or serve it in a fish cone. Go crazy with shapes, tastes, and textures. Please, just stop trying to make ice cream into a health food.

As a kid, I was insulted by attempts to make my ice cream sandwiches “skinny.” Now, the world has to contend with far more abominable crimes against frozen dessert, incuding the inclination to make a great, iconic creation “low-cal” by stripping it of sugar and loading it up with more protein than a Cliff Bar (not to mention confusing to taste buds). There’s nothing more relaxing than eating my way through an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting, so there’s really no need to adulterate my sundae with CBD oil.

That goes for this latest attempt at “sleep friendly” ice cream, too, which presumes that regular ice cream was keeping people up all night. The brand Nightfood, part of a new class of trendy “functional” health food products, markets itself as satisfying, “better-for-you and sleep-friendly.” While all the cutesy bedtime language in its advertising might lead consumers to believe this product is actually some sort of sleep aid, to be crystal clear, it is not. Nightfood doesn’t contain any supplements or medicines that might actually help someone fall asleep: Instead, the recipes are designed to reduce ingredients in regular ice cream that might prevent a good night’s rest. The company also states that it adds in minerals and amino acids that may or may not actually improve sleep, plus (of course) a bunch of protein and fiber. Again, the goal of eating ice cream is to enjoy eating ice cream, not to replace a salad. This is simply a step too far.

Ice cream in its many current and wonderful formsstretchy, rolled, Choco Taco — needs no embellishment, with the exception, perhaps, of a funky, new flavor or a drizzle of hot fudge, some whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry. Yet for some reason people keep trying to reengineer ice cream into something it simply is not. They must be stopped. It’s time to defect from these false ice cream peddlers and get back to the wonderfully simple, sweet ice cream sundaes we all rightly deserve.

While we’re at it, let’s quit it with the polluting ice cream museums, too.

Is an Ice Cream That Promises a Better Night’s Sleep Too Good To Be True? Maybe. [WaPo]
Everything You Need to Know About Classic American Ice Cream [E]

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