Jul 6, 2023
Freeze dried ice cream is a popular treat for people of all ages. But have you ever wondered who invented freeze dried ice cream?
Freeze dried ice cream is also fondly called astronaut ice cream or space ice cream. Whirlpool Corporation created the first batch under a contract with NASA for the Apollo missions.
Many thought it went on space exploration with the astronauts on the Apollo mission, but it wasn’t. Ironically, freeze dried ice cream never touched base with any spacecraft. The only time it got onboard was when it was written on the menu.
True that freeze drying was first created in 1906 in France by Jacques-Arsene d’Arsonval. But it was NASA who got the credit for modernizing the process for astronauts to have food in their travels.
Freeze dried ice cream was started in the 1970s by Ron Smith. As founder of American Outdoor Products, Smith got a message. It came from a company he contacted to create freeze dried foods for hikers. They wanted to know if they could make it for selling in their gift shop.
Smith gave the go signal, and the first product didn’t turn out well. It was a far cry from the cool freeze-dried snack you see today. The freeze dried ice cream wasn’t nicely packed in bars you could easily take anywhere with you.
It started from a big, half-gallon block of Neopolitan ice cream that’s frozen rock-solid. It was so hard they had to cut it with a bandsaw. Once they cut the ice cream into pieces, they laid everything on a tray and put them inside a specialized machine.
What happens is nothing short of magic in physics x chemistry. Through the process of sublimation, ice crystals in the ice cream changed directly into gas. No melting, just straight-up evaporation. What’s left is an airy, crunchy block of ice cream that melts like cotton candy in your mouth.
Once the freeze dried ice cream blocks were ready, they packed them inside a pouch. Smith remembered thinking that this is going to be just a fad. The novelty’s going to die soon and they won’t get much out of it.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for launching freeze-dried ice cream. There was a long recession and you know what happens when there’s a recession. Small luxuries became a thing to boost morale. It’s not a basic need to begin with. But even the smallest happiness counts for those days. With just a small expense, you got a little peace of joy to get you through the day.
And the best part is that you don’t need a freezer. Just keep it in the pantry or countertop – away from heat, of course – and take one whenever you feel a good picker-upper.
Today, Astronaut Foods is the one that distributes freeze dried ice cream to consumers. The original Neapolitan is still the most popular, but there are also other flavors.
Don’t discount the growing popularity of freeze dried ice cream sandwiches. Who invented freeze dried ice cream never thought that it would grow so popular. Now you can get them across the country. They’re a hit in museums and even theme parks.
However, someone also got a dip in the industry and invented his own freeze dried ice cream. Cosmic Space Ice Cream was born out of a Kickstarter campaign by Robert Collignon. The difference is that this freeze dried ice cream is organic, has zero corn syrup, is non-GMO, and uses hormone-free dairy. The company claims that it even has zero artificial ingredients.
Those who invented freeze dried ice cream know one thing. As the market continues to evolve, so does freeze-dried ice cream demand. Whenever there’s a kid born, there’s always a new customer. And when that kid is grown up, there’s going to be a need for freeze-dried ice cream that’s healthier, richer, and full of flavor.
Its growing popularity is still making its inventors surprised at the outcome. Smith even said that the freeze-dried ice cream would probably continue even after he’s gone. Which is probably true, because there are more than 500 Etsy listings of freeze-dried ice cream for sale.
Since Harvest Right created freeze dryers people can use at home, many are making their own freeze dried treats. Ice cream is no exception. With the high price of freeze dryers, many don’t hesitate to become enterprising. They offer freeze-dried treats up for sale to have the machine “pay for itself.”
For others who can’t afford it, they prefer to rent out freeze dryers. Those who want just a taste and do not take freeze drying seriously buy from brands like Legacy, Honeyville, and Augason Farms.
But we do know one thing. Making your own freeze dried ice cream is a fun and fulfilling experiment. Why not if you can develop your own ice cream recipe and market it?
We may even create our own and show you how we do it. Watch out for the video on our YouTube Channel.