Every year, ice cream manufacturers make about 1.5 billion gallons for sale and distribution worldwide. So why is it that we can never decide which flavor to get when it’s time to order? Experts report that, on average, we consume ice cream almost 30 times a year and that the vast majority of American households purchase ice cream regularly.
Ice cream is available in a staggering number of varieties, from individual ice cream cups, to milkshakes served in drink cups, to bite-sized ice cream pieces covered in chocolate. What is interesting about ice cream is that it contains about 50% or more of a very special ingredient: air.
The texture of ice cream is so light and creamy because when it is produced, air is incorporated as part of the churning and mixing process. Gelato, a close cousin of ice cream, contains about 30% air and is much more dense and heavy on the palate when it is eaten.
As a nation, we can’t get enough of ice cream or milkshakes. Many convenience stores sell pre-frozen milkshakes in drink cups; customers can choose whether they would prefer a thin or thick milkshake, and in-store machines aerate the milkshakes while the customers wait.
Some ice cream companies integrate organic ingredients into their ice cream, and although ice cream experts report that vanilla remains the most popular flavor of ice cream, many ice cream manufacturers produce ice creams featuring up to 10 varieties of chocolate in a single container.
Looking for a particular flavor? Some ice cream shops incorporate seasonal ingredients and make their ice cream on the premises; certain flavors may only be available at specific times of the year. In winter, egg nog may be featured, or even cinnamon ice cream, while in summer, local fruits and berries may take the stage. Americans love ice cream and continue to explore new options for exciting, unusual flavors.