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The Difference Between Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Gelato

Frozen dessert cups

It’s hard to decided which is more enjoyable — the light sweetness and variety of toppings available for your frozen yogurt, the classical creaminess of traditional ice cream, or the deep, rich flavors of sophisticated gelato. But when it comes down to it, what even are the differences between these three deliciously cold treats? Find out some surprising facts about your favorite frozen desserts.
Ice Cream
If you’re like 40% of Americans, in the next two weeks you will eat ice cream. In fact, the average American will consume ice cream 28.5 times a year! In the U.S., there is actually a standardized definition for ice cream — it’s a frozen dessert with no less than 10% milkfat. Typically it is cream, sugar and sometimes eggs that are frozen while being churned in order to incorporate air which keeps the ice crystals small. Bet you didn’t know that air is what accounts for ice creams smooth consistency! The “overrun” is the measure of the volume of air that was incorporated into the ice cream during production, and even though the amount of overrun isn’t noted on the label, the weight of an ice cream container can indicate its quality — the heavier, the creamier and richer.
When you hear the word “gelato”, most likely you have summoned up an image of Italians in stripey shirts, yelling “Gondala! Gondala!” on the streets of Venice. While they do have gelato in Italy, the version that was brought over to the States isn’t exactly the same as the authentic Italian one. In theory, gelato is traditional made with whole milk and without added cream. Unlike ice cream, gelato has very little or no air churned into it, and is allowed to be served semi frozen. There is no official gelato standard in America, so what you are likely licking from your spoon is some sort of reduced cream version of ice cream. So if you are every in Italy, don’t be afraid to indulge in authentic gelato more than once — or twice — a day — who knows when you’ll get it again.
Frozen Yogurt
“Fro-yo” as it has been lovingly dubbed by its many followers, does not, against popular belief, have to be yogurt at all. In fact, fro-yo is usually a frozen treat with less fat than ice cream, a tart flavor, and that contains yogurt cultures, whether they are active or not. Its low calorie count has made it a favorite among just about everybody, apparently — at the end of 2013, there were an estimated 2,582 frozen yogurt stores in the U.S. It’s become a modern tradition to pile on the toppings — so take the excuse to eat as many gummi bears and cookie crumbles you can!

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