The Industrialization of Ice Cream

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Once ice cream became an industrial product, industry redefined it. Manufacturers could freeze their ice cream faster and colder than the handmade version, and so could produce very fine ice crystals. Smoothness of texture became the hallmark of industrial ice cream, and manufacturers accentuated it by replacing traditional ingredients with gelatin and concentrated milk solids. After World War II, they dosed ice cream with greater amounts of stabilizers to preserve its smoothness in the new and unpredictable home freezers. And price competition led to the increasing use of additives, powdered milk from surplus production, and artificial flavors and colors. So an ice cream hierarchy developed. At the top is traditional but relatively expensive ice cream; at the bottom, a lower-quality but more stable and affordable version.