Barring lactose intolerance, an allergy or some unnatural prejudice, it's pretty safe to say we all scream for ice cream. Good for us, because we just might be living in the golden age of our favorite frozen treat. As evidence, here are a few spoonfuls that prove the future of ice cream is anything but vanilla.
In this month's issue of Food Technology, senior editor Don E. Pszczola covers a lot of ground in his article "The Not So Rocky Road of Ice Cream."
First off are our tastes -- they're changing, particularly toward the sweet and salty side of the bowl. Does the flavor "salted caramel chocolate pretzel" make your mouth water like it does mine? At last year's Ice Cream Technology Conference of the International Dairy Foods Association, that combo was selected as the most innovative prototype flavor of the year.
And hold on to your spoon -- chocolate-covered potato chips and popcorn are also flavors in the making.
Other atypical flavors are being lapped up, too. Avocado, ginger, beet and vanilla drizzled with olive oil and sea salt may sound gross, but have a bite first before you judge. And in England? Mustard-flavored ice cream. I'll understand if you pass on that one.
However, it's no secret about ice cream's effect on one's waistline. Helping slim down the extra-scoopers are a variety of companies producing healthy products. Despite being buzzkill adjectives, sugar-free, lactose-free and gluten-free actually have our health in their best interest, so don't wrinkle your nose at them. Other dairy-free desserts are being made with soy. Again, no brow-wrinkling.
Another company developed a line of vegetable extract blends that can give your ice cream a healthy boost. Carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, paprika and reishi mushrooms are a sampling of the extracts.
Just to be sure all this health-kick talk doesn't totally bum you out, I'll leave you with this: Pszczola writes about a new ice cream inspired by chewing gum. Taken from a Turkish-style ice cream called "dondurma," this new creation becomes stretchier the more it's manipulated. Its secret is the wild orchid root that gives it a unique texture. And it melts very, very slowly.
I don't know about you, but I'm gassing up my truck and driving into town. First stop: Sparky's ice cream parlor. I definitely know I'm getting a waffle cone. What I'm putting inside is anyone's guess.