A Simple Way to Cure Brain Freeze Quickly

vitapix/iStock via Getty Images
vitapix/iStock via Getty Images

As one of life’s simple pleasures, ice cream should not have the capacity to cause spontaneous and agonizing pain immediately after ingestion. Yet ice cream and other extremely cold food frequently catches us off-guard by inciting what is known as “brain freeze” or “ice cream headache.” Fortunately, there’s a way to alleviate this harsh side effect.

According to Johns Hopkins University, a bout of radiating pain in your head after eating cold food is known as cold neuralgia or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. It’s likely caused by your body entering survival mode when it detects a freezing temperature on the palate (roof) of the mouth: our system constricts blood vessels in the palate to preserve our core temperature. When they rapidly open back up, a pain signal is sent to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. Since that nerve leads directly to the midface and forehead, your face bears the brunt of the referred pain from the mouth.

A brain freeze typically lasts less than five minutes. But when your head is throbbing, that can feel like forever. To minimize the pain, the best strategy is to warm the palate up. You can do this by pressing your tongue or a thumb against the roof of your mouth, by drinking a warm liquid, or both. Covering your face and breathing into your hands can also warm the air inside your mouth that was chilled by the ice cream.

If you want to take preventive measures, avoid gulping cold drinks and take smaller bites. Holding the ice cream in your mouth to warm it before swallowing can also reduce the potential for a painful end to your cone or slushy drink.

[h/t Johns Hopkins Medicine]

What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?

Lisovskaya/iStock via Getty Images
Lisovskaya/iStock via Getty Images

Happy Vanilla Ice Cream Day! While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry expert Dr. Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

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The 5 Sweetest Ice Cream Makers for National Ice Cream Month

SergeyChayko/iStock via Getty Images
SergeyChayko/iStock via Getty Images

If the mid-summer temperatures are tempting you to indulge in ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, let this information seal the deal: July is National Ice Cream Month. Instead of sweating your way to the store to pick up a pint, why not make your own? Scroll down to find out which ice cream makers we’re screaming about this month, from the Zoku’s single-serve dish to Nostalgia’s old-fashioned bucket.

1. Zoku Ice Cream Maker; $26


Zoku’s cereal-bowl-sized ice cream maker is perfect both for people who live alone and for people who like to personalize their ice cream with unconventional mix-ins. It’s also magically fast, as long as you remember to stick the stainless steel bowl in the freezer about 12 hours before dessert time. Then, when your ice cream craving hits, pour your chilled ice cream mixture into the frozen bowl, stir, and watch your ice cream soup solidify into thick, creamy deliciousness in about 10 minutes—no electricity needed. Treat yourself to this BPA-free appliance in red, blue, green, yellow, or purple.

Buy it: Amazon or Bed Bath & Beyond

2. Nostalgia Electric Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker; $43


This ice cream maker from Nostalgia has all the sentimentality of ye olde ice cream-churning days, without any of the splinters or blisters. To use it, pour your ice cream mixture into the 1 gallon stainless steel canister along with the plastic dasher, pop on the plastic lid, and place the whole thing inside the wood-paneled bucket. Layer the perimeter with ice and salt, seal the lid, and let the electric motor churn for 20 to 30 minutes. Host an ice cream party or store your leftovers conveniently in the canister. To make the process even less labor intensive, you can buy Nostalgia’s pre-made ice cream mix in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry (or all three).

Buy it: Amazon

3. Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker; $70


With a 4.4-star average rating on Amazon, it’s safe to say that Cuisinart’s Pure Indulgence ice cream maker is worth your while. Like with the Zoku ice cream maker, you have to remember to freeze the bowl at least half a day before churning time, but that’s about it—the bowl is insulated with a freezing material, so there’s no need to add ice. Plug it in, pour in your mixture, and turn it on. It’ll make up to 2 quarts of pure indulgence in about 25 minutes, and the lid has a hole in the top where you can toss in toppings while it churns.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker; $363


The Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker lives up to its name: The automatic machine alters its churning process to match whatever hardness setting you choose, based on what type of frozen dessert you’re whipping up. Turn the dial toward “Softer” for sorbet, “Harder” for ice cream, and somewhere in the middle for gelato or frozen yogurt. Ice cream takes about 50 minutes, but you can also manually set the time if your recipe specifies a churning time. Once it’s ready, the Smart Scoop will play a jingle (or beep, if you prefer) to let you know.

Another huge advantage of the Smart Scoop is that you don’t have to remember to freeze the bowl or add ice—the machine does the freezing for you. Activate the “Keep Cool” setting and the machine will keep your dessert frozen for up to three hours. The device is about the size of a small toaster oven, can hold up to 1.5 quarts, and features a child lock. It’s currently less than $400 on Amazon, which is a pretty good bargain for a tabletop ice cream shop.

Buy it: Amazon ($363) or Sur La Table ($430)

5. Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker; $20


The Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker is similar to Zoku’s in that you have to freeze the bowl beforehand, and it makes about a single serving (in this case, 1.6 cups). But you don’t have to do any manual churning with this one. It works with the press of a button, takes around 30 minutes, and comes in a cool mint color that looks just as refreshing as whatever dessert you're creating. (One reviewer even uses it for nutritional drinks, which turns them into a soft ice cream.) If you want your dessert to be thicker, several reviewers recommend that you chill your mixture either before or after churning it. This ice cream maker weighs just 2 pounds and stands 9 inches tall, making it easily portable and storable.

Buy it: Target

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