Anyone who’s experienced pangs of hunger and cravings when looking at an ice cream cone can attest that the sugary, creamy treat is near irresistible. And it’s not just because our bodies, and tastebuds, have evolved to crave sugar on the regular. When you break down the chemistry behind ice cream, it’s easy to see why: It’s been engineered to the perfect combination of elements — sugar, fat, frozen water, and air — that make up the mouthwatering concoction.
Watch the video to understand the chemistry behind ice cream; we can’t promise that you won’t immediately want to go buy a pint after watching, but you’ll at least feel justified in your indulgence. It’s not your fault that ice cream is so tempting — it’s science.
Want to learn more about America’s favorite treat? Here’s five more things you never knew about ice cream.
You can thank Thomas Jefferson for the pint in your freezer.
No, it wasn’t the Founding Father who invented ice cream — which can be found as far back in the history books as ancient Rome and Greece — but he certainly helped popularize it stateside. Jefferson was obsessed: A vanilla ice cream recipe was found in his Monticello estate (said to have been written by him, but most likely written by his staff), and he’s said to have served it at the president’s house at least six times.
You can thank Nancy Johnson, too.
Before 1848, ice cream was made in ice houses preserved really for the elite. But Philadelphia’s own Nancy Johnson invented what’s known today as the modern ice cream maker, or “artificial freezer.” Three years later, Jacob Fussell would be the first to open an ice cream manufacturer in the U.S., using the most advanced technological innovations for freezing and refrigeration.
The heyday of ice cream was World War II.
Prohibition and the Great Depression garnered a new need for a comfort food, and ice cream stepped in. By the end of the 1930s, Americans were eating more than a million gallons per day. Ice cream became a source of patriotism, so far that the U.S. Navy built a floating ice cream factory in a converted barge on the Pacific.
The most popular flavor of ice cream in the United States is not what you’d expect.
In that it’s, well, pretty vanilla. That’s right: According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the most popular flavors of ice cream sold in the U.S. are vanilla and chocolate.
And the fifth-most popular flavor was actually invented by Ben & Jerry’s.
That flavor would be Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. A customer suggested it at a Burlington, VT Scoop Shop in an anonymous note; it took Ben & Jerry’s five years to perfect the mechanics of hand-mixing the raw cookie dough chunks into ice cream. But once it debuted in 1991, it became a sweet success.