The SciArt of Ice Cream


When I walk down the cereal aisle of my grocery store, I see a breadth of options that are overwhelming. Baristas at my local coffee shop inquire whether I’d like my coffee brewed using a Chemex, French press, or siphon pot. To continue this hyper-granular thread, my new corner ice cream shop––yes, it’s in Manhattan––offers four flavors of chocolate ice cream.

George Washington is said to have enjoyed his ice cream––spending approximately $200 on it one hot summer in 1777. For further proof, inventory of his house after his death shows two ice cream pots in his possession. That’s how dear his ice cream was.

People who love ice cream tend to go to lengths to satisfy their cravings. Many even take it up as a hobby, which can eventually lead to a shop, or a line carried by a grocery store comprised of new or different flavors or bases (cashew, whey, and more). Recipes for ice cream can be lengthy, or as simple as three ingredients: heavy cream, whole milk, and sugar. Tinker with the milks, both the amounts and the types, and you’ll see lighter or heavier results. Add eggs and it becomes a custard. (In case you’re wondering, I have never made ice cream myself.)

It was only a matter of time before scientists decided to tackle ice cream and figure out ways to freeze it differently (liquid nitrogen), make it change color (your saliva) or find a different way to serve it (in your bare hands). It’s for these reasons we felt it was time to write about ice cream as a form of SciArt.


Originally published in the October issue of "Sci Art in America." Read the full piece here.