The ice cream of the future won't be cryogenically-frozen beads (sorry, Dippin' Dots) or freeze-dried and chalky (thanks, but no thanks, for the astronaut ice cream). Rather, it will be melted—or never frozen at all.
Unilever—proprietor of such brands as Ben & Jerry's, Good Humor, Popsicle, and Klondike—recently announced that they are developing a low-carbon ice cream. Because the process of freezing and storing ice cream is very energy intensive, this means that the best way to make the sweet treat eco-friendly is to make and transport it at room temperature. Consumers would then freeze the "ambient" ice cream, as the company calls it, at home. But now everyone is wondering—will it be as delicious as the Cherry Garcia we all know and love?
A spokesman for Unilever said that warm, or so-called ambient, ice cream was a “very interesting idea” but one that posed tough challenges that its scientists were trying to solve. “The key question which has yet to be fully answered is: how do you ensure that, when the ambient ice cream is frozen at home it will have the right microstructure to produce a fantastic consumer experience?”
This isn't the first time an ice cream maker has tried to cut their footprint. Greenpeace called out Unilever and other brands in 2005 for the hydrofluorocarbons used to freeze ice cream, even though they were developed as a greener alternative to damaging chlorofluorocarbons. Then Ben & Jerry's teamed up with Greenpeace late last year to develop and test a HFC-free freezer in stores. Despite this advancement, Unilever seems to have decided that the greener way to make ice cream is not only to change their process—it's to change their product.