You may have heard the saying that money cannot buy happiness; however, it can buy ice cream. The frozen treat can accommodate people with vastly different tastes through its many flavors and forms. It is the most popular dessert in America (Diamond, 2015, para. 4). Ice cream is the best dessert because it is versatile, customizable, widely available and improves mood.
Ice cream is a relatively broad term. Changing the ingredient ratio can yield gelato, frozen custard, soft serve, frozen yogurt, sherbet or sorbet. The percent from milk fat, amount of time churning and ingredients, such as egg yolk or yogurt cultures, accounts for the differences between these dishes (Schrader, 2021, para. 9; Bell, n.d., para. 19). Non-dairy and low-fat ice creams allow for almost anyone with a love for frozen dairy products to enjoy ice cream (Bell, n.d., para. 19). Though sherbets and sorbets have more ice, less milk fat and are generally fruity flavors, they are still considered types of ice cream (Bell, n.d., para. 19).
Ice cream is served in a variety of formats. It is an essential ingredient in root beer floats, milkshakes and malts. In ice cream cake, pie à la mode and chipwiches, ice cream complements other dessert foods. In a way, ice cream is the bacon of dessert foods because it makes other foods better. Ice cream sandwiches and deep-fried ice cream are other notable ways to eat ice cream. Despite the large pool of choices, 40% of Americans prefer a plain scoop of ice cream over soft serve, ice cream sundaes and other desserts with ice cream (Diamond, 2015, para. 14).
The number of available flavors and toppings is nearly innumerable. The Spoon Report lists 586 flavors categorized as single simple, single complex or combination flavors (“Ice Cream Flavor,” 2017). The most popular flavors in the United States are chocolate, cookies and cream, vanilla and mint chocolate chip. An infinite possibility of toppings and syrups opens the door to creativity. Eating ice cream in a cone makes the experience unique and portable. However, eating ice cream in a cone is not as popular as eating it in a bowl (Diamond, 2015, para. 19). With so many options, ice cream suits the palate of almost everyone with a sweet tooth.
The wide accessibility of ice cream affirms its popularity. Many shops are known for serving ice cream (sometimes exclusively) and most restaurants typically offer ice cream as a dessert option. Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, and Coldstone Creamery are the most profitable ice cream chain restaurants in the United States (Restaurant Business Staff, 2020), but local restaurants are options as well. Aside from restaurants, grocery stores sell ice cream for around $4.93 per half-gallon (Blázquez, 2021) for individuals to enjoy at home. Ice cream trucks, as the name suggests, also sell ice cream. Regardless of where the ice cream came from, Americans spend billions of dollars on it each year (Diamond, 2015, para. 2; Wunsch, 2021).
Ice cream may be popular because it induces happiness and has a positive social influence. One study investigated the brain activity of participants while they ate ice cream.
“What we were hoping to find, and did find, was that eating ice cream activates the part of the brain called the Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which indicates the positive emotional pleasure and reward value of the ice cream...It also activates other areas of the brain involved in sensory processing of the stimulus as expected, and activates areas of the brain involved in attention and processing of emotionally relevant stimuli.” (“Ice Cream Makes,” 2010, para. 19, 22)
The researchers found that ice cream makes people happy through a reward system in the brain. This evidence suggests a reason for consuming ice cream when sad or to celebrate a recent event. Furthermore, people generally eat more ice cream when they are in a group as opposed to being alone (Berry, 1985, pg. 41).
Ice cream is the superior dessert of choice because it is flexible in use, able to be personalized, highly accessible, and makes people happy. The possibilities are endless when it comes to how an individual eats the dessert. It is also cost-effective and can conform to various diet restrictions. All in all, it is a tasty food that is sure to brighten the mood.
Berry, Sharon Lee, et al. “Sensory and Social Influences on Ice Cream Consumption by Males and Females in a Laboratory Setting.” Appetite, vol. 6, no. 1, 1985, pp. 41–45., https://doi.org/10.1016/s0195-6663(85)80049-0.
Bell, Kayla. “Ice Cram.” Food Source Information, Food Source Information-Colorado, https://fsi.colostate.edu/ice-cream/.
Blázquez, Andrea. “U.S. Retail Price of Ice Cream 2020.” Statista, Statista, 26 July 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/236868/retail-price-of-ice-cream-in-the-united-states/.
Diamond, Kerry. “How Much Does America Love Ice Cream? Yahoo Food Has the Scoop.” Yahoo!, Yahoo!, 10 Aug. 2015, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/how-much-does-america-love-ice-cream-yahoo-food-126114505346.html.
“Ice Cream Flavor Index.” Spoon Report, Spoon Report, 2017, https://spoonreport.com/flavor-index/.
“Ice Cream Makes You Happy.” NeuroSci, NeuroSci, 20 Apr. 2010, http://neurosci.co.uk/portfolio/ice-cream-makes-you-happy/.
Restaurant Business Staff. “The Largest Frozen Dessert Chains in the U.S.” Restaurant Business, Restaurant Business, 13 May 2020, https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/financing/largest-frozen-dessert-chains-us.
Schrader, Sarah. “The Scoop on Ice Cream.” ASBMB, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 18 July 2021, https://www.asbmb.org/asbmb-today/science/071821/the-scoop-on-ice-cream.
Wunsch, Nils-Gerrit. “The Leading Ice Cream Brands of the United States in 2020, Based on Sales.” Statista, Statista, 24 Sept. 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/190426/top-ice-cream-brands-in-the-united-states/.