Nothing ruins a lackadaisical summer day like a frozen treat dripping down your hand before you can eat it. Suddenly, your rocket pop has thrown you into Defcon 5: It must be consumed before a complete meltdown. As your brain freezes and your mouth is stained by artificial dyes, you curse the sun for shining upon you.
The gastro-focused U.K. design firm Bompas & Parr has done the impossible: It’s created a popsicle that won’t melt onto your hand, even at the height of summer. And you can try one from now until September 30 as part of SCOOP: A Wonderful Ice Cream World at the British Museum of Food.
How is a non-melting popsicle possible? The firm spent a year developing the treat, during which time they came across a World War II-era research project by the inventor Geoffrey Pyke dubbed Project Habakkuk. To chase German U-boats deep into the Atlantic, Pyke imagined building a mile-long aircraft carrier not out of steel or aluminum, but out of ice. His team would go on to develop a material dubbed “pykrete,” a super-strong frozen slurry of ice and wood pulp with the ability to float like an iceberg and repair itself with the sea around it. In theory, these carriers could be produced for 1% of the energy requirements a concrete carrier would require, and Britain could save its short supply of metals for other projects. Winston Churchill approved a 1,000-ton scale model built on Lake Alberta, in Canada, and the prototype was able to stand on the lake for three seasons before completely melting. Even still, the project wasn’t feasible. The giant ice floats would have still have required extra insulation and refrigeration units to stay afloat.
However, half a century later, pykrete inspired Bompas & Parr to create a better popsicle. The team realized that it could use edible fruit fibers to create the same insulating effect of wood–along with what we’ve been told are several “secret ingredients.” The firm is excited about their innovation, and have ambitions to bring it to supermarkets soon.
Yet while the popsicle (or what the Brits dub an “ice lolly”) doesn’t melt, how does it taste? Could it still be as satisfying to lick as a drippy, melty popsicle? “The texture of the ice lolly is not far off a regular lolly, though a tad chewy,” a representative tells us. “It tastes like the future.”
Or the past.