Somebody needs to inform the ghost of Bertolt Brecht that there's no greater example of an unyielding mirror held up to reality than an unmelted ice cream sandwich sitting in a backyard in New South Wales.
Recently, Mary Salter, a grandma from Grafton, Australia, took to Facebook to share this story: Mary's grandson was enjoying a Cole's ice cream bar when it broke in half and he threw a fit, refusing to eat the ice cream any further. He threw the ice cream on the ground, and one half landed on cement while the other half landed on the lawn.
Pretty routine scenario, until Mary returned four days later to find the treat eerily untouched by animals and—contrary to logic and science and all things rational—completely unmelted.
Mary then asked her Facebook followers: "Can you please explain why after four days in 26-degree heat [78 degrees Fahrenheit] on cement it has not melted or nothing has volunteered to eat it… [It is] still in direct sun, still not melted away, still ants fleeing in terror!"
Mary, perhaps believing that she may have uncovered a dark truth about our food system, beseeched her friends and family to conduct an experiment: "Please, please do what I have done, break it, throw each half out and see if you can persuade it to melt or a creature to eat it," she wrote.
In fact, Mary Salter may be onto something. The case of the unmelting ice cream is no isolated incident.
Back in 2014—after a Cincinnati resident reported that her kids' ice cream sandwich didn't melt in 80-degree weather—a Cincinnati television station decided to conduct a similar test on several ice cream brands, and discovered that Walmart's Great Value ice cream sandwich stayed completely intact and did not melt in the sun. Walmart admitted that its sandwich bars did not include very much cream in them, which is why they don't melt quickly—or at all.
As stories and videos of unmelting ice cream proliferated throughout the internet with the speed of a Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory, Snopes decided to take a look into the phenomenon. It concluded that many of the alleged "ice creams" in the non-melting videos are, in fact, frozen dairy desserts, which have far less fat or cream than real ice cream. Bottom line: cream and fat melt; the other stuff in frozen dairy desserts—such as calcium sulfate and guar gum—don't, even if they are FDA-approved.
According to Consumer Reports, "Manufacturers add gums and other ingredients like calcium sulfate and mono diglycerides to help control the melting rate of ice cream. They are also added to stop large crystal formations from forming when the products are taken in and out of the freezer."
When MUNCHIES reached out to Coles Supermarkets for comment, a spokesperson provided us with the following statement: "Our ice cream sandwiches make use of very simple, commonly-used food techniques that help slow the melting process, and allows you to consume it without it falling apart in your hands. This technique includes adding thickener to the cream, creating a honeycomb-like structure which helps to slow the melting process. When the product starts to melt and liquid evaporates, you are left with what appears as foam."
Feel better now that you know what the answer is, Mary? Neither do we. That said, we're probably still going to be pounding some ice cream sandwiches in the next day or two.