The Freeze Report: 5 Cool Facts About Freezing

November 29, 2016

Ben & Jerry's Pints in a freezer

Freeze Right There, Buddy!

As experts in ice cream-ology, we know a thing or two about freezing. Like that you should always wear a hat and mittens if it’s colder than 32° F. Or how not to get locked in the ice cream freezer. Or that the Parthenon is home to perhaps the world’s most famous frieze. Oh wait, wrong freeze.

Here are the coolest facts about freezing that we’ve learned along our ice cream journey:


  1. Freeze Perfection

    We’ve been at this long enough that we know a thing or two about freezer temperatures. Around our offices, we have two different freezer environments: the deep freeze (-10° F), where ice cream stays as solid as possible for storage, and scooping temperature (8°-10° F), like the ice cream you see at your local Scoop Shop. That’s the perfect scoopable temperature that keeps our Scoopers (and their precious arm muscles) happy and results in those picture-perfect scoops.


    Breaking News! Bonus Fact!

    A few weeks ago we were digging around (looking for a snack of course), and stumbled upon a buried treasure in the back of one of our freezers: a vintage tub of White Russian circa 1995. Stay tuned for the unboxing . . . if we have the courage to dig into that bad boy. 

  2. Burned by The Freezer

    Freezer burn. Oh, the irony of that name. Have you ever plucked a pint out of your freezer, ready to dive into a swirly, creamy ice cream wonderland, only to find it grainy and icy? Yup, that’s freezer burn all right. It happens when ice cream melts and then refreezes. In normal, fresh ice cream, the ice crystals are teensy tiny, making the texture creamy and smooth. Once it melts, even just a little bit, and then refreezes, the ice crystals bind to one another, making larger crystals. This leaves the texture grainy and icy. And here are six easy ways to prevent it and protect your precious pint.

  3. Brain Pain

    If you’ve had ice cream before, you’ve had an ice cream headache. You know — that icy, painful feeling in your brain when you eat that bowl of Phish Food just a little too fast. (And who could blame you?) This is what’s really going on: when something really cold touches the roof of your mouth, the blood vessels that run between your mouth and your brain tense up, trapping blood in your brain. The pressure from that extra blood causes the brain pain. If it’s particularly bad, try pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth — this warms the roof up enough that the vessels will unclench.

  4. Hydrocarbon Is Way Cooler Than It Sounds

    Freezers are wonderful things — like big chilly babysitters for your pints of Cherry Garcia and Americone Dream — but the standard freezer is not particularly eco-friendly. Standard freezers use HFCs (or hydrofluorocarbons) as a refrigerant, which contribute pretty significantly to climate change.

    When we first learned that, we started experimenting. We tried solar-powered freezers and even tried using sound waves to chill our ice cream. Finally, we took a hint from our European friends who were using HCs (or hydrocarbons) instead of HFCs, which are way better for the environment. We joined up with Greenpeace and got to work petitioning the EPA to approve them for use here in the US. And in 2011, we succeeded! Today, we call them Cleaner, Greener Freezers and are transitioning our Scoop Shops to use them worldwide. The pints are happy, Mother Nature’s happy, and we’re sure happy.

  5. Covering our Basics

    But wait, you say. What is freezing, anyway? Every time you put something in the freezer (or out on the back steps if it’s winter in Vermont), it gets really cold and really hard. What’s going on? Put on your science helmet, and get ready: you know how everything is made up of molecules? These are tiny little particles made up of atoms that are constantly buzzing around. And the warmer they are, the faster they move. When something is in freezing temperatures, the molecules slow down enough that they chemically bond to one another in place. And voila! What once was liquid is now solid.

Are you frozen in awe at these wild facts? Can’t believe how cool they are? We can’t either. It’s all part of the wild and wacky world of Ben & Jerry’s.