Why You Can’t Buy Grape Ice Cream
There is no such thing as grape ice cream. The reason? It has a lot to do with dogs, girls, the 1876 World’s Fair, pharmaceutical companies, and it’s more complicated than you think.
After his successful invention of the ice cream soda in 1874, Philadelphia’s Robert Green began to tackle a request from his customers.
Green boldly stated, in an 1876 interview with the Pennsylvania Inquirer, "The people are tired of vanilla and chocolate. They want something more. When the children come up from the mines, they are not satisfied with the plain flavors anymore. I will give them grape. The world’s fair is coming. The world will have grape ice cream. This I decree."
What Green did not know, is that grapes contain a special molecule Anthocyanin that prevents freezing. Green’s every attempt to create grape ice cream only produced one outcome – grape milk. He was destined to fail, but in all the excitement with the fair, no one noticed.
Until the 1970’s the mystery of Grape Ice cream remained unsolved. Baskin Robbins tried it, and failed. Carvel couldn’t do it. Dairy Queen, didn’t dare.
However, in 1976 Ben Cohen, of ice cream duo Ben and Jerry took on the challenge This was actually 2 years before they opened their first ice cream parlor, but Ben was already a hardcore ice cream flavor creator.
Ben told People Magazine in a 1984 interview, "I had the biggest crush on Jerry’s sister (Becky). He knew it and didn’t want me near her. I think he’s still pissed about this one. Anyway, one day I was boasting to his sister that I would create a new ice cream flavor especially for her. Any flavor she wanted, but she had to go out with me. Becky was a real ball buster, so she says to me, ‘yeah okay GRAPE!’ She knew from Jerry that nobody could do it. They had been talking about it. Jerry always thought it was funny, but though grape was gross but I was determined to do it. I can’t even taste a damn grape, but I would do it anyway."
See my taste buds don’t work. That’s why all our flavors are lumpy so I can tell the flavors apart. Like everyone else before me, I couldn’t get the (grape) ice cream to freeze. At that stage, I was just using Welch’s grape juice and I was having difficulty with my test results because I couldn’t tell which group had the flavor, how much flavor was added, and so on. So to help myself with the testing, I started adding the grape skins. Something I could feel, to know what was what. We didn’t know it back then, but grapes contain Anthocyanin molecules. These are a form of anti-freeze. They keep the ice cream in lquid form — but if you increase the Anthocyanin level to a highly concentrated level, then you get the creamiest freeze you can imagine. An ice cream makers dream. You can only get the levels that high when you add the skins. They have more of those molecules than the rest of the grape – including the seed.
That was the secret why the Germans were able to make rum raisin ice cream back in WWII. The damn Anthoycyanin levels in the raisin’s were perfect because the raisins had the skin, not the juice.
I had no idea why it worked back then though. I just stumbled upon the discovery because of my tongue. Becky was impressed. We were at her house, alone. I gave her the scoop – on a cone. I was really getting somewhere. She was laughing and happy. She couldn’t believe I did it. I’ll never forget what happened next. Becky jokingly gave her dog a lick from the cone. He liked it and took a couple licks. Then he just gasped and dropped dead. He flipped down onto the floor and was just gone. I had no idea that Grapes are toxic to dogs. Specifically the Anthoycyanin.
Becky was devastated. I had invented deadly dog poison, and I definitely wasn’t’ getting anywhere with her now. This grape thing was no good. You can’t have dog poison this toxic in the house. My creation was dead. I didn’t care about it anyway so I gave it to the pharmaceutical companies to figure out. I don’t remember who even gave me that idea, but I hear they’re still using grape flavored pills to put down dogs with at a lot of the old kill shelters. It’s my greatest mistake. The pharm. companies figured it out about the molecules. I gave up on it. I don’t think anybody else even tried. You can make the stuff at home as long as you don’t have a dog, but nobody is going to sell the stuff."
Shortly after Ben provided his formulas to the pharmaceutical industry, FDA banned the sale or research of any grape flavored ice creams or sherbets, natural or artificial due to pet related hazards. This ban is in effect until 2028. That’s why you never see grape flavored ice cream anywhere.