What’s in this?

Why ice cream sandwiches don’t melt
By Jessi Stone and DeeAnna Haney | Aug 04, 2014
Photo by: Jessi Stone Walmart brand ice cream sandwiches don't melt even after being left at room temperature for several hours.

If you find yourself craving an ice cream sandwich this summer, you may want to take a closer look at the ingredients before making a purchase.

A number of news articles and YouTube videos have been circulating on social media this week asking one question — Why don’t Walmart’s ice cream sandwiches melt in the sun? It was a mom in Cincinnati that sparked the conversation after finding her child’s ice cream sandwich sitting outside in the hot sun still in tact. It was a Walmart Great Value brand sandwich and it had been sitting in 80-degree weather for 12 hours.

Since this great mystery came to light, many news organizations and consumers have been conducting their own ice cream experiments to find an answer.

In response to the viral videos and stories, Walmart spokesperson Danit Marquardt was quoted as saying, “Ice cream melts based on the ingredients, including cream. Ice cream with more cream will generally melt at a slower rate, which is the case with our Great Value ice cream sandwiches."

Hypothesizing that Walmart’s brand wasn’t the only ones not melting, The Mountaineer news team decided to conduct its own experiment with ice cream. The test subjects included Walmart’s Great Value ice cream sandwiches, Food Lion’s My Essentials ice cream sandwiches, Weight Watchers’ ice cream sandwiches and sample cups of Haagen Dazs, The Hop and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

The ice creams were all placed in the same freezer overnight before being studied. At 1:20 p.m. the next day, the ice cream sandwiches were removed from the wrappers and placed on a separate paper plates on a desk in the newsroom, which is kept at 72 degrees throughout the day. The tops were removed from the ice cream samples and placed on the same desk.

Within 20 minutes, the Weight Watchers ice cream sandwich had started to melt out onto the plate and the ice cream samples were beginning to melt in the cup. However, the Walmart and Food Lion brand sandwiches were still maintaining their shape.

By 2:30 p.m., all of the ice cream samples from The Hop, Haagen Dazs and Ben and Jerry’s had returned to their original state — liquid cream. By 3:30 p.m., the Weight Watchers ice cream sandwich had melted, but the ice cream wasn’t the same creamy consistency as the ice cream samples from The Hop, Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs.

At 5 p.m., the Walmart and Food Lion ice cream sandwiches were both still holding their shape — no cream had melted onto the plate.

While many people are using these experiments to condemn the preservatives placed in many foods, other reports say it has more to do with chemistry than preservatives. Compounds like the gums and calcium sulfate found in most of these sandwiches add thickness to the ice cream to keep it from melting in your hands.

Michelle Sanderbeck, a doctor of naturopathy and owner of Be Well Western Carolina, a holistic and natural wellness facility in Waynesville, says the ice cream experiment gone viral validates her decision to not eat commercial ice cream.

"When ice-cream doesn't melt it makes me question putting it in my system," Sanderbeck said.

Though she doesn't claim to be an expert on the chemical makeup of ice cream, her casual research of the subject of the mystical non-melting kind has taught her that most commercial ice cream companies use other additives than all natural ingredients to their products.

What's her best piece of advice? Do what she does.

"If you want ice cream, make it yourself. That way you know what the ingredients are," she said, adding that a quick Internet search will result in several quick and easy ice cream recipes with few ingredients. There are even recipes that don't require an ice cream maker.

"I know it's easier and more convenient to buy things at the store that have already been processed, but what comes along with buying processed foods are the preservatives and all the chemicals...your body doesn't have the enzymes to break it down and your body doesn't know what to do with it," Sanderbeck said.


Food Lion My Essentials mini ice cream sandwich

90 calories

2 grams saturated fat

50 mg sodium

8 grams of sugar


Ingredients: Milkfat and nonfat milk, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sweetcream buttermilk, sugar, whey, less than 2 percent natural and artificial flavor, guar gum, Xanthan gum and cellulose gum.


Walmart Great Value ice cream sandwiches

160 Calories

3 grams saturated fat

120 mg sodium

13 grams of sugar


Ingredients: Milk, cream, buttermilk, sugar, whey, corn syrup, vanilla extract, guar gum, calcium sulfate, carob bean gum and cellulose gum.


Weight Watchers (giant) ice cream sandwiches


140 calories

0.5 grams saturated fat

120 mg sodium

16 grams sugar


Ingredients: Skim milk, milk, sugar, ploydextrose, citrus fiber, propylene glycol monoesters, guar gum and carob bean gum.