Nothing encapsulates the frustrations of the British summer quite like ripping into a pack of supermarket ice lollies, only to discover a pool of molten sugar in lieu of the frozen treats you’d been so patiently waiting for.
But it’s an age old disappointment almost confined to the past now Bompas & Parr have managed to crack a formula for the world’s first non-melting ice lolly, due to arrive just in time for the late stages of a record breakingly hot summer and the launch of SCOOP: A Wonderful Ice Cream World, the British Museum of Food’s summer exhibition running from now until 30 September at Gasholders London, King’s Cross.
For such a futuristic concept, the lolly has its roots firmly in the past.
The key material, pyrkete, is a frozen composite made of sawdust and wood pulp dispersed in ice, first patented by 20th century inventor Geoffry Pyke whose WW2 experiments with the new material were focused on building a durable floating runway in the Atlantic Ocean.
Pyke had realised that ice could be manufactured for only 1% of the energy required to make an equivalent mass of steel, and proposed that an iceberg, natural or artificial, could be levelled out to create such a runway.
Inspired by inuit ice sleds which were reinforced with moss, he began experiments on creating super-strength ice in a secret location under Smithfield Meat Market, in a refrigerated meat locker, hidden behind frozen animal carcasses.
The proposal was treated as something of joke by some naval officers, however Churchill was enthusiastic about it. Ultimately the project was abandoned due to rising costs and mitigated by the longer ranges newer aircraft could achieve.
Safe to say, Bompas & Parr’s ice lolly application is on a slightly more human scale.
They’ll be replacing the dust and pulp with edible fruit fibres and inviting visitors to taste the results.
If the experiment is successful then moves will be made to develop the prototype into something fit for supermarket shelves and the possibility of future summers without a melted Calypso in sight.