Melt-proof ice cream could be in the not-so-distant future, thanks to the addition of a naturally-occurring protein.
The protein, which scientists say is likely already present in other foods, would cause ice cream to melt much more slowly than usual. It would bind together the three main components in the dessert -- air, fat and water -- making an extra-smooth treat that stays cold longer in hot weather.
But do we really want another added ingredient to our snacks?
Slow-melting ice creams have a shady history: Walmart's store-brand ice cream sandwiches, for example, have been found to barely melt in the sun. They contain a lineup of artificial ingredients including cellulose gum, calcium sulfate and mono-and diglycerides which, though not 100 percent proven to curb melting, do NOT sound cool.
But this new melt-resistant ice cream would be different because it would put a natural protein in place of artificial ingredients, said Dr. Cait MacPhee, a University of Edinburgh professor who led the protein project. There would also be fewer of the gritty ice crystals that form when you keep ice cream in the freezer for too long, because of the protein's emulsifying properties. And it would still taste like ice cream (while likely being lower fat and calories, according to the video above).
"The ice cream will still taste cold, and it will still melt -- just more slowly," MacPhee told The Huffington Post in an email. "The structure should be the same, if not better."
The new protein ingredient hasn't been added to ice cream yet: Researchers say it'd take three to five years to get the protein into ice cream and put the resulting product onto shelves.
We'll be in hot debate until then.
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