When you think about common fruit flavors, grape is probably one of the first to come to mind. But as common as it is in candy and Popsicles, you’d be hard-pressed to find it in ice cream. Weird, right?
There’s actually a very legitimate reason people rarely sell grape ice cream, but it has nothing to do with the bizarre rumor that the FDA banned it for making dogs sick (though you should always watch out for these dog illness symptoms).
Basically, grapes have high water content, which is why eating them is an easy way to stay hydrated. But it also means when you freeze them to make ice cream, they’ll turn into icy chunks. That’s all fine and dandy for an ice pop recipe, but not what anyone wants from a scoop of smooth ice cream. Plus, leaving the skins on would ruin the texture, but peeling grapes takes away most of their flavor, according to Why Do Pirates Love Parrots?: An Imponderables Book.
Getting around the ice problem is easy enough at home or a small local shop, where small batches of pureed grapes can mix into the creamy ice cream base. (FYI, this is the best temperature to serve ice cream if you’re scooping from home.) Going large-scale for a mass market, though, is when things get tricky. For instance, the Ben & Jerry’s founders used to make flavors like melon or cantaloupe, says Ben & Jerry’s PR representative Sean Greenwood. “But then, they were doing it on a two-gallon batch,” he tells Thrillist. “To try to do that on a massive scale is much more challenging.”
We know what you’re thinking: Cherry Garcia is one of the most popular flavors ever from Ben & Jerry’s. (If you love the flavor, too, check out exactly why Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is particularly good.) Grapes and cherries are both about 81 percent water. Wouldn’t those ice-cold cherries pose the same problem?
The short answer is yes. But the fact that people go crazy for cherry means it’s worth the effort. “Most people don’t even associate grape with ice cream,” Greenwood tells Thrillist. “People grew up on cherry and vanilla—so now, they love cherry-based ice cream. Grape has not broken through the creme-de-glace ceiling, if you will.” If big-name brands did make grape ice cream—even using grape flavor instead of the fruit itself, like in some sherbets—they probably wouldn’t sell enough pints to make it worthwhile. (Find out the real difference between ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, and gelato.)
In fact, Ben & Jerry’s actually did try to make grape ice cream once. But it got mixed reviews from taste-testing guests at the company’s Flavor Lab, so the brand never bothered moving forward with it. Maybe someone should tell that to the people obsessed with these weird food combinations.