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Wal-Mart sells un-meltable ice cream — so is it safe?

Ice cream melts. This is basically a law of the universe, right up there with gravity, the speed of light and the way your mom will always call right when Game of Thrones starts. It’s a given. But Wal-Mart’s ice cream sandwiches are calling this rule into question with their uncanny ability to never melt.

That’s right, as Dan Collins of KIKN 100.5 in Sioux Falls proved with his video, you can leave a Wal-Mart ice cream sandwich out in the sun for over 12 hours and it doesn’t even get drippy.
Ew, gross, or have we finally reached the future of food?

Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist and author of The Secret of Vigor, says the staying power of the “ice cream” can be attributed to sugars and starches like polydextrose, maltodextrin and cellulose mixed with thickeners like carrageenan and guar gum. This mixture is then kept from separating by various diglycerides and emulsifiers like polysorbate 80. Confused by all the big words — none of which include either “ice” or “cream”? So was I, and yet all those (and more) are listed on the ingredients panel.

“In a ‘real’ ice cream, you will have nothing more than milk or cream, sugar and flavor (vanilla extract, vanilla bean, chocolate/cocoa, etc.) so it melts like crazy,” Talbott says. “Think about how an ‘old fashioned’ ice cream cone from a local shop will melt so quickly that it runs down your hand and you can’t lick fast enough to keep up.”

Oh, I am thinking about it. And it’s delightful. There’s nothing like a cold cone on a hot summer day and the sticky fingers are totally worth it. But what about these mystical ice cream sandwiches? Are they worth it? And should I let my kids eat them?

Talbott says he’s actually used the ice cream sandwich experiment with his own children to show them the difference between “real” versus “fake” food and to get them thinking about what might be happening inside their bodies if they eat the fake stuff.

“I wouldn’t consider any of these ingredients to be ‘dangerous’ per se,” he says, “but I think that the handful of natural ingredients in real ice cream are a lot more appetizing than the chemical soup list of 30-plus ingredients in a Wal-Mart fake-cream sandwich.”

Yeah, I think I’ll keep my SPF in my sunscreen and go straight for the good stuff. And now I have a serious craving for some mint chocolate chip. (But not the freaky green kind. The real white stuff made with mint leaves and big chocolate chunks.)

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