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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The Reason White Castle Slider Burgers Have Five Holes

White Castle
White Castle

While it’s not often mentioned in conversations about the best fast food burger on the menu alongside staples like Shake Shack or In-N-Out, the White Castle slider burger still holds a special place in the stomachs of those who enjoy their bite-sized convenience. In 2014, TIME even named the slider the most influential burger of all time, with its debut in 1921 helping begin our nation’s obsession with fast-service burgers.

Peel the bun off a White Castle burger and you’ll find the square meat patty has exactly five holes. Why? Thrillist writer Wil Fulton went looking for an answer to this gastronomic mystery. It turns out that the holes serve a very functional purpose.

In 1954, a Cincinnati-based White Castle employee named Earl Howell stuffed his location’s suggestion box with a note that said the patties might cook more quickly if they were pierced. The reason? The franchise steams its burgers on the grill, and the holes allow the steam to better penetrate the stacks of patties (usually 30 burgers tall) that are piled on the grill at one time. No one has to flip the burgers, and they wind up coming out of the kitchen faster. The steam also picks up the flavor of the onion acting as a bottom layer, allowing it to spread through the stack.

Howell’s idea soon spread from Ohio to White Castle restaurants nationwide. The company facilitates the creation of the holes by puncturing a “meat log” and then slicing it and sending the patties to locations.

If you enjoy their distinctive flavor, the holes have a lot to do with it. Enjoy.

[h/t Thrillist]

Why Do We Eat Candy on Halloween?

Jupiterimages/iStock via Getty Images
Jupiterimages/iStock via Getty Images

On October 31, hordes of children armed with Jack-o'-lantern-shaped buckets and pillow cases will take to the streets in search of sugar. Trick-or-treating for candy is synonymous with Halloween, but the tradition had to go through a centuries-long evolution to arrive at the place it is today. So how did the holiday become an opportunity for kids to get free sweets? You can blame pagans, Catholics, and candy companies.

Historians agree that a Celtic autumn festival called Samhain was the precursor to modern Halloween. Samhain was a time to celebrate the last harvest of the year and the approach of the winter season. It was also a festival for honoring the dead. One way Celtics may have appeased the spirits they believed still walked the Earth was by leaving treats on their doorsteps.

When Catholics infiltrated Ireland in the 1st century CE, they rebranded many pagan holidays to fit their religion. November 1 became the “feasts of All Saints and All Souls," and the day before it was dubbed "All-Hallows'-Eve." The new holidays looked a lot different from the original Celtic festival, but many traditions stuck around, including the practice of honoring the dead with food. The food of choice for Christians became "soul cakes," small pastries usually baked with expensive ingredients and spices like currants and saffron.

Instead of leaving them outside for passing ghosts, soul cakes were distributed to beggars who went door-to-door promising to pray for souls of the deceased in exchange for something to eat. Sometimes they wore costumes to honor the saints—something pagans originally did to avoid being harassed by evil spirits. The ritual, known as souling, is believed to have planted the seeds for modern-day trick-or-treating.

Souling didn't survive the holiday's migration from Europe to the United States. In America, the first Halloween celebrations were a way to mark the end-of-year harvest season, and the food that was served mainly consisted of homemade seasonal treats like caramel apples and mixed nuts. There were no soul cakes—or candies, for that matter—to be found.

It wasn't until the 1950s that trick-or-treating gained popularity in the U.S. Following the Great Depression and World War II, the suburbs were booming, and people were looking for excuses to have fun and get to know their neighbors. The old practice of souling was resurrected and made into an excuse for kids to dress up in costumes and roam their neighborhoods. Common trick-or-treat offerings included nuts, coins, and homemade baked goods ("treats" that most kids would turn their noses up at today).

That changed when the candy companies got their hands on the holiday. They had already convinced consumers that they needed candy on Christmas and Easter, and they were looking for an equally lucrative opportunity to market candy in the fall. The new practice of trick-or-treating was almost too good to be true. Manufacturers downsized candies into smaller, bite-sized packages and began marketing them as treats for Halloween. Adults were grateful to have a convenient alternative to baking, kids loved the sweet treats, and the candy companies made billions.

Today, it's hard to imagine Halloween without Skittles, chocolate bars, and the perennial candy corn debates. But when you're digging through a bag or bowl of Halloween candy this October, remember that you could have been having eating soul cakes instead.

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