Poor grape, the loneliest flavor in the kitchen.
Though there are many products where grape flavor can be welcome, such as juices, sodas, popsicles, and (of course) the actual fruit, the one place you’ll rarely find a grape is in your ice cream.
Many conspiracy theories have been floating around as to why the lowly grape has yet to make its way to the creamery, but you might find that the real reason is the simplest of all.
The main idea running rampant around the Internet blames the absence of grape ice cream on the Food and Drug Administration, which banned the flavor because of pet-related hazards.
The legend goes that Ben & Jerry’s created a delectable grape ice cream which was then served to a lucky customer who loved it so much that they fed a bit of it to their beloved dog, who immediately died of anthocyanin poisoning. (Anthocyanin is a chemical found in grape skins, and it’s poisonous to dogs and cats.)
After the incident, the FDA ruled that no ice cream manufacturer may sell grape flavored ice cream.
The rumor has been spread by humor sites like EM Toast and The Chive, so it comes as no surprise that Snopes.com has debunked the claim that the FDA would ever intervene on grape ice cream. After all, chocolate is also poisonous to pets, and you can still buy it practically anywhere.
The real reason, sadly, if far more mundane. In an interview with Thrillist, Ben & Jerry's PR lead Sean Greenwood cleared up the rumors.
“Making ice cream at home, you can get fruit like grapes pretty close to a puree, but when you are using fruit as a base on a large scale, that's when you run into problems,” Greenwood told Thrillist. Basically, grapes have high water content, and when manufactured on a large scale, will leave you with unappetizing ice chunks in your ice cream.
Cherries also have high water content, yet the fruit is used often in classic flavor combinations like Ben & Jerry's own Cherry Garcia.
Greenwood had a response for this, too.
“Most people don't even associate grape with ice cream. People grew up on cherry and vanilla...grape has not broken through the creme-de-glace ceiling, if you will,” he said.
It all comes down to supply and demand — and no one is demanding grape ice cream.
Greenwood also mentioned some other grape-like flavors that did not end up as part of the Ben & Jerry’s family freezer.
“So, we have an actual graveyard of flavors we made and just didn't hit. One of the most iconic examples is 'Sugar Plum’...A lot of our employees still talk about how it was a fun idea, but not a great flavor,” Greenwood said.
Small ice cream shops, especially ones that specialize in offbeat flavors, have been known to make their own, small batches of grape ice cream for their customers. New York City's Il Laboratorio del Gelato, for example, has four different grape sorbet varieties (concord, black, green, and red), which is close.
But even without interference from the FDA, it will be a long time before we see this flavor in the freezer aisle.