Good Question

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2 responses to “Good Question

  1. Uhhhhh……
    For some reason, that reminds me of an article I once read about the composition of Cool-Whip. It was terrifying.

    You want terrifying? Recently a Dairy Queen opened up in David along my bus route. I stopped in a couple of days after the grand opening and had a hot fudge sundae. There was a lot of back and forth on a local “forum” () about the introduction of a new gringo assault on Panamanian culture which lead someone to post this comment on the chemical makeup of Dairy Queen’s “ice cream” . . .

    Vanessa Farquharson, National Post · 2008

    At first it’s just cold, like regular ice cream. But once it’s in your mouth, eating soft serve can taste remarkably like liquid plastic.

    It was first poured into cones in Illinois in the late 1930s, when both J.F. McCullough (the founder of Dairy Queen) and Tom Carvel pumped cream with air to make the treat. The air content can vary from cone to cone, but at its highest can reach up to 60% (so the $1.75 is really for air, with a bit of ice cream).

    The nutritional bonus is that all that air leaves less room for dairy fat. On the downside, a product that goes into a machine as liquid and powder and comes out two seconds later as a mix of solids and air before quickly melting back into liquid has more than its share of artificial ingredients.

    But just how artificial is soft-serve ice cream? In the vein of Steve Ettlinger’s best-selling book Twinkie, Deconstructed, we break down all the ingredients in a chemical cone— the ones that come after milk and sugar.

    Corn syrup To make corn syrup enzymes are added to corn starch, breaking it down into a gooey mixture of glucose, dextrose and maltose. All those -oses are mainly used to thicken the cone, but they also soften texture, add volume, stop crystallization and enhance flavor.

    Artificial flavours ’Nuff said.

    Guar gum Typically produced in powder form, manufacturers like it because it’s so cheap — it has almost 8x the water-thickening potency of cornstarch so only a small amount is needed. It can be used as an emulsifier, as it prevents oil droplets from coalescing, or as a stabilizer because it stops solids from settling.

    Calcium sulfate A common lab and industrial chemical, calcium sulfate is used as a desiccant and a coagulant (in other words, to dry and to clot). Partially dehydrated gypsum is also known as plaster, which is great for repairing drywall or making casts. The commercial sources of calcium sulfate may be either animal-derived (from cow or pig), vegetable-derived or synthetically manufactured.

    Cellulose gum One of the most common thickening agents used by the processed-food industry due to its versatility and efficiency. Fun fact: It’s also part of many non-food products, such as K-Y Jelly, toothpaste, laxatives, diet pills and paint!

    Polysorbates 65 and 80 These are emulsifying agents, often used in soft serve to prevent milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join together, which locks air in the mixture and provides a firmer texture. Polysorbate 80, a viscous, water-soluble yellow liquid, has been linked in numerous studies to infertility in mice.

    Carrageenan A naturally occurring family of carbohydrates extracted from red seaweed.

    Magnesium hydroxide An inorganic compound, magnesium hydroxide is a common component of antacids and laxatives that interferes with the absorption of folic acid and iron.

    NOTE: This is nothing compared to the dips and toppings. If you opted for, say, a soft-serve ice cream with strawberry syrup, you’d have to contend with these ingredients: E405 propylene glycol alginate, E412 guar gum, E413 tragacanth, E414 acacia, E415 xanthan gum, modified corn starch, E296 malic acid, E211 sodium benzoate & E202 potassium sorbate, artificial flavours, E129 FD&C Red, No. 40, E133 FD&C Blue No. 1.

    How’s THAT for yummy?

  2. Rick Rueter

    This is chemical warfare to be used as a last resort. A 50/50 mixture of icing sugar (yummy to bugs) and baking soda works well for many creepy crawlies (makes them snap, crackle and pop since they have no natural way of dispelling the resulting CO2 gas). Borax and diatomaceous earth work by coarse crystals rupturing soft exoskeleton in joints so the critters die of dehydration.

    You might also see a more recent post about my “pets.” The house geckos do a pretty good job. I’ve only ever seen one or two roaches here in the house.