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Heated Ice Cream Rant

July 3, 2018

On a hot hot day in July, cooling down with some ice cream sounds like a fantastic idea. You’ve probably never asked yourself if it’s ever too hot for ice cream.

That’s ridiculous.

Sure, the hotter it gets, the faster your ice cream will melt. But that’s why God created cups instead of cones. Then when your ice cream melts, you aren’t wasting that delicious custard down your fingers and arms. Rather, you get to scoop up every last drop with a spoon, like a civilized adult.

Yes. I said, when your ice cream melts. Look, ice cream is frozen dairy and eggs. And you know what? It’s supposed to melt. The hotter it gets, the faster it will melt, and I can’t even tell you how hot my blood boils when people ding ice cream because it melts quickly in the sun.

The colder and harder you serve ice cream, the less flavor it possesses. Those who would give up essential flavor, to purchase a little more rigidity, deserve neither flavor nor rigidity.

Now that I’ve gone all Benjamin Franklin on the matter, let’s get back on track. As it turns out, there are some well intentioned—if slightly misguided—people out there who are looking for the best ice cream in Upstate New York. But if they come to Troy this week, they aren’t going to find it… because it’s too damn hot.

Have you seen the New York Upstate search for the the best ice cream stand?

Well, the competition is now into the finals. There are nine businesses remaining. Yes, you can go online and vote every day for your favorite. That will help to decide the “Readers’ Choice” winner. Polls for that close on Thursday, July 12 at 11:59pm.

Locally, The Dutch Udder and Snowman are under consideration. In the popular vote, Snowman is well in the lead. And that’s not surprising given how much the Troy ice cream stand is pushing the contest on social media. I like Snowman, especially its Boston Shake. But it should be no surprise that I’m throwing my support toward The Dutch Udder.

That said, popularity contests are just that. And this isn’t even a popularity contest. Because people can vote every day. It’s really just a measure of how many impressions can each ice cream shop generate for New York Upstate.

Right? Let’s say Shop A is loved by 500 busy people who can only vote once, while Shop B is loved by 100 people who have time to spend every day voting on the internet. Shop B, even though less popular, can win the Readers’ Choice award.

The thing that gets me all riled is how the official judges are going to evaluate the shops.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that this contest goes beyond just an online poll and includes actual visits and tastings with a set of criteria to guide them. And the criteria itself is sound: flavor, texture, and appearance.

It even sounds as if the judges intend to try one fruity flavor and one chocolate flavor, looking for brightness and bitterness respectively. Kudos to them.

Here’s where I lose my cool.

The panel of judges will aim to judge each ice cream stand on at least two flavors of hard ice cream (if available), two flavors of soft ice cream (if available), one sundae (if available) and at least one additional house specialty that best showcases what the stand has to offer.

Did you see it?

By “two flavors of soft ice cream” I assume they mean soft serve. And it’s not ice cream. Well, most of it isn’t ice cream. Since ice cream by definition has to contain a certain percentage of butterfat, and the vast majority of soft serve doesn’t even come close. In fact, I can’t say I’ve ever had bona fide soft serve ice cream. If you know any soft serve shops that sell something with 10% butterfat, I’d love to hear about it so I could make a pilgrimage to taste this mythical delight.

On this blog, I try very hard to keep the words “soft serve” separated from “ice cream” because I know they can often be conflated, and for the most part they are two entirely separate things. But I digress.

While it may not be too hot for soft serve, it is too hot for ice cream. At least, it’s too hot for the Capital Region’s best ice cream. I got a note from Kem at The Dutch Udder telling me that the shop will be closed today and tomorrow while they work on cooling their ice cream production kitchen.

Apparently the power requirements for keeping it cool during this heat-wave were just too much for the wiring. Eek! And because the best ice cream is freshly made ice cream, she does not keep a freezer full of product on deck. New ice cream is produced as needed.

It’s an incredible commitment of time. But that’s just another one of the things that makes The Dutch Udder great. I’m just hoping that the New York Upstate judges weren’t planning to roll through Troy today. That would be even more tragic than including soft serve in their evaluation of the state’s best ice cream.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. KingOfBeacon permalink
    July 3, 2018 12:02 pm

    My first comment is that I disagree with your idea that it’s never too hot for ice cream. I’m more a fan of ice cream in the colder months. Never understood why so many of the places around here have to be seasonal. I end up going to each place once a year just because it’s the only way I can get their ice cream, When it’s hot the last thing I want is something sweet and dairy. Give me ice cream in January please. In the words of Ron Burgundy – “It’s so damn hot, milk was a bad choice”.

    Secondly, the Snowman having such a huge lead is a combination of the online push (which has been clogging up my social media feed) and that pesky waxing nostalgic that people around here seem to love doing. I like Snowman. I like them a lot in fact. But to think they are 2-3 times better, based on voting, than Dutch Udder is absurd. In fact, not seeing Moxie’s, Mac’s, or Guptill’s *all of which are actually better than Snowman* not even making the initial voting list blew my mind.

  2. July 3, 2018 12:24 pm

    The below comment was sent to me from Jeff of the Dutch Udder. He was apparently having some technical difficulties with WordPress:

    “It was 86 in our kitchen yesterday with high humidity. We went and got a much larger AC unit last night and ran all new electric, I finished the installation this morning. We are getting a delivery of dairy today and will be working late this evening to make up for all the ice cream we sold this past weekend. Our freezers are pretty empty right now but by the end of today and tomorrow, they should be stocked again! The kitchen is now back down to a comfortable 65 with low humidity. Let’s DU this!!!”

  3. Ric Orlando permalink
    July 3, 2018 12:26 pm

    Thank god nobody mentioned Stewart’s… sorry but I can get past the corn syrup finish …

    • -R. permalink
      July 3, 2018 1:22 pm

      The best thing Stewart’s makes is half and half. It is one of the very,very few that actually expires like a normal dairy product (in 5-7 days). All that crap at the supermarket is ultra-hyper-super-mega-pasteurized with plenty of chemicals and lasts for several months. That’s not dairy, that’s chemistry and the taste matches perfectly.

      • KingOfBeacon permalink
        July 3, 2018 3:58 pm

        Even worse? Their skim milk. They add nonfat dry milk to it to make it thicker and seem more like whole milk in mouthfeel. If I wanted a milkshake I would have just brought whole milk to begin with.

  4. July 3, 2018 1:38 pm

    I might be picky here but hey I can’t help myself.

    If “ice cream” contains egg it is actually considered either gelato or custard. “Ice cream” as defined in the US, at least, does not contain egg.

    As for soft serve, find yourself some good frozen custard. Frozen custard must contain at least 10% milkfat to be labeled as such. In my experience there isn’t any in the Albany area (cries forever). But, I now live in Western NY where frozen custard is king, and it is amazing.

  5. Emily Lang permalink
    July 16, 2018 8:15 pm

    Growing up on soft serve, it is my go to for ice cream. While I adore the Dutch Udder and their quality ingredients, if you aren’t use to it, it is overwhelming, especially the sticker shock. I think there is room for all in the ice cream game, but I am with you for defining “ice cream” versus products that are “dairy by-products”. It doesn’t mean that each has less value, but that we are simply informing the public exactly what they are consuming. I know when I eat soft serve, it doesn’t contain much real dairy, but as lactose intolerant person (who eats wayyy more lactose than should), I can still enjoy it.

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