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kottke.org posts about ice cream

Food truck wars

posted by Tim Carmody   Jun 13, 2016

Mister Softee used to dominate ice cream sales on Manhattan’s streets. Now Midtown is run by a splinter group called New York Ice Cream, former Softee franchisees (for a little while the trucks read “Master Softee”) who cut out the overhead but kept their corners.

The New York Times ran a story about the ice cream turf wars in late May:

“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”

Mr. Vega, 41, said that if he comes across a rival on his route, “I jump out and say, ‘Listen young man, this is my route, you gotta get out of there.’”

The same day that story was printed, a New York Ice Cream driver was arrested for attacking a pretzel vendor in Midtown with a baseball bat.

This week, Crain’s New York had a deep-dive into the nitty-gritty of NYC food carts, from managing licenses and fees, dealing with wholesalers, appealing tickets, and paying taxes. The wholesalers run out of Hell’s Kitchen; the expediters and permit brokers are in Astoria.

A thousand and one systems, legal, quasi-legal, and extra-legal, overlapping each other like nervous and circulatory networks in a body. All of the unseen navigation that makes a city run.

Feminist Ben & Jerry’s flavors

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2015

From Amanda McCall, a selection of Ben & Jerry’s flavors featuring women.

Feminist Ben Jerry

Feminist Ben Jerry

Feminist Ben Jerry

Feminist Ben Jerry

McCall made these because Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t done such a good job highlighting women with their products:

Over the past three decades, Ben & Jerry’s has created over twenty flavors honoring various famous people, and only two of those people have been female: Tiny Fey’s character on 30 Rock (“Liz Lemon’s Greek Frozen Yogurt”, released in 2013 ) and Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter (“Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie”, released briefly in 2009).

There are currently no female flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (even Tina Fey would agree that, while “Greek frozen yogurt” is certainly a healthy ice cream alternative, it is not the same as ice cream), despite the fact that women consume significantly more ice cream than men do.

The best thing about the Butter Pecancé Knowles flavor is that butter pecan ice cream is actually the singer’s favorite flavor.

“I love my butter pecan ice cream,” she says, “but I also love to work out. We all have our issues. Mine is arms and legs, keeping them tight and toned. It takes work, believe me.”

Ben & Jerry’s! Let’s make this happen! (via @amateurgourmet)

The economics of an ice cream cone

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 22, 2011

At a Boston ice cream shop, the cost of ice cream cone has risen 10% in the last four months. The Boston Globe investigated down the supply chain and detailed where the price increases are coming from.

Ice cream may be a deliciously simple combination of milk, butter, and sugar, but the true cost of an ice cream cone is no simple business calculation. Toscanini’s price tag is part of complex and increasingly interconnected world economy, one that links a dairy farm in the tiny Western Massachusetts town of Colrain to the sprawling neighborhoods of Beijing.

Also of note: pistachio ice cream might be difficult to find this summer because the cost of pistachios has increased sharply in recent months. (via girlhacker)

Salting ice cream

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 08, 2009

In last Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, Grandpa Gene ate ice cream right out of the container and salted each spoonful before putting it in his mouth.

Mad Men Salt Ice Cream

It was an odd sight…salt isn’t normally the first thing you think of as an ice cream topping. After the episode, Rex Sorgatz tweeted:

WHO THE FUCK SALTS THEIR ICE CREAM?

Salt has its own flavor when it’s concentrated (if you salt foods too much or eat some all by itself) but used judiciously, salt takes the natural flavor of food and enhances the intensity. To use another dairy product as an example, fresh mozzarella tastes pretty good on its own but throw a little salt on top and it’s mozzarella++. Salt makes ok food taste good and good food taste great. Along with butter, salt is the restaurant world’s secret weapon; chefs likely use way more salt than you do when you cook at home. It’s one of the reasons why restaurant food is so good.

But back to the ice cream. As food scientist Harold McGee writes, salt probably won’t make ice cream taste sweeter but will make it taste ice creamier, particularly if the ice cream is of low quality, as the store-bought variety might have been in 1963.

I’m not sure that salt makes sugar taste sweeter, but it fills out the flavor of foods, sweets included. It’s an important component of taste in our foods, so if it’s missing in a given dish, the dish will taste less complete or balanced. Salt also increase the volatility of some aromatic substances in food, and it enhances our perception of some aromas, so it can make the overall flavor of a food seem more intense.

So that’s why the fuck someone might want to salt their ice cream.

Ice cream, igneous rock

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 25, 2008

Ice cream is an igneous rock made up of ice, air, and sugar.

Much like igneous rocks, the same liquid mix can turn out very differently depending on what happens while it is freezing. The goal of most ice cream and sorbet is to have a smooth and creamy texture, which would be ruined by the presence of large ice crystals. To achieve this, you want to cool your ice cream so quickly that the crystals don’t have time to grow, and keep the mixture stirred up while it freezes. There’s a lot of energy involved in the transition from liquid to solid water, and a home ice cream maker can’t do the heat transfer quickly enough to keep the ice crystals small, so you have to sit there and turn the crank until your arm is sore while the mixture slowly freezes (or invest in a fancier machine that will do the stirring for you).

See also what happens when ice cream sits for too long in the freezer and the book, The Science of Ice Cream.

Ice Cream Factory smackdown in Chinatown

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 02, 2005

Ice Cream Factory smackdown in Chinatown. Same owners or will an ice cream war consume Chinatown?