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Get the Scoop on a Popular Frozen Delight

Ice cream has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years. In the second century B.C., Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices. Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that resembles modern-day sherbet. That recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century.

Today, Americans eat around 45 pints of ice cream a year, more than any other nation, with vanilla being the top flavor. Perhaps that's why supermarket freezer cases brim with ice cream and other frozen treats. Get the scoop on the different types of ice creams that you can dig your spoon into.


Ice cream -- a frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, such as milk and nonfat milk, and ingredients for sweetening and flavoring, such as fruits, nuts and chocolate chips; contains at least 10 percent milkfat.

Light ice cream -- contains at least 50 percent less total fat or 33 percent fewer calories than the referenced product.

Low-fat ice cream -- contains a maximum of 3 grams of total fat per serving.

Reduced-fat ice cream -- contains at least 25 percent less total fat than the referenced product (either an average of leading brands or the company's own brand).

Nonfat ice cream -- contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per serving.


Superpremium ice cream -- tends to have very low overrun (the amount of aeration the ice cream undergoes during its manufacturing that keeps the mixture from becoming an inedible frozen mass) and high fat content; the manufacturer uses the best quality ingredients.

Premium ice cream -- tends to have low overrun and higher fat content than regular ice cream; the manufacturer uses higher quality ingredients.

Regular ice cream -- meets the overrun required for the federal ice cream standard.

Economy ice cream -- meets required overrun and generally sells for a lower price than regular ice cream.


Frozen yogurt -- contains a mixture of dairy ingredients, such as milk and nonfat milk, which have been cultured, as well as ingredients for sweetening and flavoring.

Frozen custard -- contains a minimum of 10 percent milkfat and at least 1.4 percent egg-yolk solids.

Sherbet -- has a milkfat content of between one percent and two percent and a slightly higher sweetener content than ice cream. It's flavored with fruit juice and sugar, milk, eggs or gelatin.

Gelato -- contains sweeteners, milk, cream, egg yolks and flavoring; characterized by an intense flavor and is served in a semi-frozen state.

Sorbet and water ices -- similar to sherbets, but without dairy ingredients.

Novelties -- separately packaged single servings of a frozen dessert such as ice cream sandwiches, fudge sticks and juice bars that may or may not contain dairy ingredients.

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