Monday, July 14, 2008



From the lapping up of snow with a few squirts of raw cow's milk for flavoring to today’s embalmed, synthetic and chemical flavored, puffed up sugared ice cream, we've come a long way, baby!

Marco Polo brought a recipe back from his travels at the end of the 13th century. Nancy Johnson, in 1846, invented the crank and paddle freezer for making home made ice cream. Jacob Fussell is the father of mass-produced ice cream. In 1851, Fussell, a Baltimore milk dealer, found himself with a bankruptcy-threatening oversupply of cream. Fussell turned the surplus into ice cream, vending it at an unheard-of bargain of 25 cents a quart. Soon he'd dumped the milk business entirely to concentrate on ice cream. By 1899 the American ice cream industry was making 5 million gallons a year. Today, the average American consumes 24 quarts of ice cream a year.

Today there are more than 1400 flavorings, colors, stabilizers, and emulsifiers available to the commercial producer of ice cream - an array of possible ingredients that would have dizzied the old-lime ice cream makers who dealt primarily with cream, sugar, and various flavorings.

Ice cream manufacturers are not required by law to list the additives used in the manufacture of their product. Consequently, today most ice creams are synthetic from start to finish. Ice cream makers are giving us a wide variety of delicious flavors. BUT ARE THEY FIT TO EAT?

There's hardly any ice cream flavor that doesn't have a chemical substitute.

Some of the artificial flavors are potent poisons, powerful enough to cause liver, kidney and heart damage.

The flavors range from apple butter to zabaglione. The Polly Ann parlor in San Francisco has pioneered vegetable-flavored ice creams, offering spinach and tomato among its 275 flavors. Top seller, though, is American Rose, which its promoters say "tastes like a rose smells."

Some ice creams contain natural flavorings; some contain a mixture of natural and artificial flavors; and some are entirely artificially flavored.

In the trade, as well as by Federal regulation, naturally flavored ice creams are identified as: category I; the ice-cream label reads, say,” Vanilla." Category II is a combination of natural and artificial flavors; the package reads "Vanilla flavored." All-artificial flavoring is category III; these ice creams are labeled "Artificially flavored vanilla."

The Ratings identify the category of each ice cream.

Peperonal is used in place of vanilla. This is a chemical used to kill lice.

Vanillin is also a chemical used to produce a vanilla flavor. It is made from the wastes of wood pulp and has no relationship to the vanilla bean.

Natural vanilla, in the form of pureed vanilla beans or vanilla extract, is more expensive than artificial vanilla. That explains why many of the vanillas are flavored artificially, either entirely or in part.

Benzyl acetate is a synthetic chemical that imparts a strawberry flavor.

According to the Merck Index, an encyclopedia for chemists, it warns that this substance can cause vomiting and diarrhea. It is also a nitrate solvent. Ethyl acetate is used by many manufacturers to give their product a pineapple flavor. This is a substance that can cause liver, kidney and heart damage. It is also used as a cleaner for leather and textiles, and its vapors have been known to cause chronic lung, liver and heart damage.

Then there's amylbutyrate to replace banana. It's also used as an oil paint solvent.

Aldehyde c 17 is used to flavor cherry ice cream. It is an inflammable liquid which is used in aniline dyes, plastic and rubber.

Butraldehyde is used in nut-flavored ice cream. It's one of the ingredients in rubber cement.

Diethyl glycol is the same chemical used in antifreeze and in paint removers. Because it is cheap it is used in ice cream as an emulsifier instead of eggs. According to the Merck Index, it is sufficiently toxic to cause liver and kidney damage.

Chemical additives as propylene glycol (the antifreeze constituent), glycerin, sodium carboxy methylcellulose (a cellulose), monoglycerides, diglycerides, disodium phosphates, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, polysorbate 80, and dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate are all permitted by law. Most of these additives are used as "stabiliers" and "emulsifiers". Stabilizers make ice cream smooth; emulsifiers make it stiff so it can retain air.

Of course, pumping air into ice cream increases its volume. Two batches of mix weighing the same but containing different amounts of air take up different amounts of space. The batch with more air naturally appears greater in quantity. And since ice cream is sold by volume it is possible to make a little mix fill a lot of half-gallon or gallon cartons.

But air does more than alter ice cream's size. It effects its taste. Each manufacturer has his own formula for the amount of air ("percentage of over-run" in trade jargon) that makes "the best" ice cream. Ice creams contain from 40 per cent to 60 per cent over-run (air).

Too little air makes a heavy ice cream. Too much air makes a foamy ice cream. By law, a gallon of ice cream must weigh at least 4.5 pounds. Home made ice cream and the natural ice creams on the market are heavy and weigh about 7 « to 8-1/2 pounds a gallon.

The next time you're tempted by a luscious-looking banana split (or to let your belly be your god), think of it as a mixture of oil and nitrate solvent, antifreeze and lice killer, and you won't find it so appetizing.

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