Getting the Scoop on Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Yogurt

Paper ice cream cups

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream; this phrase is actually more accurate than one might think. There are around 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream, frozen yogurt, and gelato produced every year in the United States, making frozen dairy confections some of the nation’s most in-demand desserts. Here’s the scope on all of our favorite frozen treats.

Traditional Ice Cream

Although modern refrigeration techniques have only been around for a few hundred years, the concept of a frozen dessert itself has existed for thousands of years. It is even recorded that the young Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great enjoyed ice and snow that was flavored using honey and nectar in the 2nd century BC. While honey-nectar ice cream may not threaten vanilla as the current national flavor anytime soon, ice cream cups and cones around the nation would be empty if not for the historical demand for frozen dessert treats.

Soft Serve Ice Cream

A creamy treat that you don’t even need a spoon to enjoy; soft serve ice cream is best enjoyed on hot summer days. Since soft serve ice cream needs to be constantly churned to produce its namesake softness, those who want to enjoy soft serve either need to invest in their own ice cream machine or head to an ice cream parlor. A number of ice cream shoppes are devoted entirely to soft serve ice cream where they can produce unique flavors that deviate from the vanilla, chocolate, and swirl norms.

Frozen Yogurt

While ice cream is traditionally made using cream as the name would suggest, frozen yogurt simply replaces the cream with yogurt in an effort to provide a healthier frozen treat to enjoy guilt-free spoonfuls. The movement is picking up steam as there were an estimated 2,582 frozen yogurt stores across the country as of 2013.


Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, yet it is much different from traditional American ice cream. There are two main differences: milk fat and air introduced via churning. Gelato has 3 to 8% milk fat whereas ice cream typically must have no less than 10% milk fat. Gelato’s denser consistency is due to the fact that it has around half of the air of ice cream, making it a firm frozen treat you can really dig your spoon into!