Boop Versus the Creamsicle

Hi! It’s me, Boop! How are you? I’m great, thanks! I’ve been chilling (not literally, turtles are cold blooded, though we prefer the words ectotherms and ectothermic) in my tank, hanging out with BEEP MY BEST TURTLE FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD. If you’ve been to Discovery World since we reopened, awesome! It’s been great to see you! Thank you!

Tomorrow is National Creamsicle Day! Beep and I are excited! Just in case you don’t know what a Creamsicle is, it’s a Popsicle made of ice cream covered in orange sherbet. Creamsicles are delicious! Or so I’ve heard. Beep and I have never eaten a Creamsicle because we are turtles. According to the Aquarists, turtles don’t eat ice cream. We have tried explaining to the Aquarists that Beep and I are omnivores. We eat pretty much anything. By definition, “pretty much anything” includes Creamsicles, right? Of course it does.

Well, the Aquarists think they “know better” because they “went to school” to “learn” all about biology and have “years of experience” “taking care” of aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures. So they’re the “experts”. Well, thppppt! I WANT A CREAMSICLE!

By the way, ice cream and related frozen treats have a whole lot of National Days. Like a lot a lot. There’s National Vanilla Milkshake Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, National Bomb Pop Day, National Ice Cream Day, National Strawberry Sundae Day, National Peach Ice Cream Day, National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, National Milkshake Day, National Root Beer Float Day, National Creamsicle Day, National Banana Split Day, National Chocolate Milkshake Day, and National Sundae Day. To be fair, none of these are quite as silly as National Candied Orange Peel Day. May 4, 2021. Go pound sand (it’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere), Star Wars Day. It’s National Candied Orange Peel Day. Mark your calendars!

To be even fairer, candied orange peels probably need a day to remind everyone that they exist. I bet you can’t even remember the last time you thought to yourself, “Gosh, I really could go for some candied orange peels right about now.” Ice cream, however, needs to chill. Ha! The average American eats 5.5 gallons of ice cream each year. No one forgets about ice cream.

Anyway, Beep and I were undaunted (turtles are never daunted!), so we decided to make our own Creamsicles. Obviously, we couldn’t call them Creamsicles, and obviously we would add chopped up mealworms. Like bacon, mealworms make everything better.

Don’t ask me how (turtles never reveals their sources), but we were able to secure heavy cream, milk, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vanilla, orange juice (for the sherbet), and mealworms.

There was only one thing standing in our way. Heat. Ice cream is cold. We had no way to make cold happen. To make cold happen you have to move heat somewhere else. We didn’t have a way to do that. We didn’t have a freezer. Ice is also cold, but we didn’t have a way to make ice. Sure, we could sneak out and find ice somewhere, but where’s the fun in that? I mean, there’s fun in everything we do, but Beep and I wanted a different kind of challenge. How could we make ice without electricity?

So this one time, Beep and I watched a movie about ice. It was a small, indie film that came out a few years ago called Frozen. You’ve probably never heard of it. Anyway, one of the main characters was able to make ice with her magical ice powers. She made a lot of ice. She sang about the ice. And then [SPOILER ALERT] she made the ice go away. It was a pretty good movie.

Beep and I don’t have magical ice powers, but we did remember that at the beginning of the film, there were guys with big saws and other tools that they used to cut huge blocks of ice off the top of a river (or lake, maybe?). Then they hauled the ice away on sleds that were pulled by reindeer. I assume they stored the ice in insulated buildings or underground or whatever to keep until summer. It takes a lot of energy to melt ice, so it’s entirely possible that you could store ice for a long time in an insulated, underground cellar.

Beep and I did not have a frozen river, nor did we know where to find one. We did not have big, dangerous tools. We did not have sleds. We did not have reindeer. We did not have a singing snowman. EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE A SINGING SNOWMAN FRIEND. How could we possibly make ice?

How did anyone make ice back before refrigeration? Could we even make ice?

If you lived in a place that had mountains nearby, you could head off into the hills in search of snow. You could then pack the snow into containers and store it in underground cellars that were lined with straw. That’s what a lot of ancient (and probably not so ancient) people did. Milwaukee is not very mountainous, and it’s not winter yet. We had no snow to work with. And if there was snow on the ground, it would be too cold for us turtles to function (we’re ectotherms). So snow was right out.

Then Beep and I discovered that some ancient peoples were actually able to make their own ice. We did not know this, but by around 400 BCE, ancient Persians had mastered the science of evaporative cooling, which works really well in a dry climate.

(Trees cool the air through an evaporative cooling process called transpiration. You experience evaporative cooling when you sweat, assuming that it’s not too humid out. It takes a lot of heat energy to evaporate water, so as the water evaporates, the heat leaves you. Turtles don’t sweat, so if we get too hot we have to slip into a pond or find some shade.)

The Persians engineered incredibly sophisticated, insulated, domed towers called Yakhchāls. Water came in from an underground aqueduct and ran down the sides to a pit where it froze at night. At the same time, warmer air was continuously vented out the top. It’s a little more complicated than that, but everything is. Persians generally made ice in the Yakhchāls in winter, but the ice would remain frozen the entire year. This was in the desert, where it gets really hot during the day! That’s incredible!

I’ll spare you the details (because there aren’t any), but Beep and I built our very own Yakhchāl. It took a bit of doing to build the underground aqueduct and find the right combination of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash to make the waterproof, insulating mortar. Goat hair was probably the hardest to find, but we have our sources.

Our Yakhchāl worked beautifully. We had ice! And then we hit another snag. Ice isn’t cold enough to turn cream into ice cream. We needed a way to lower the freezing point of water in order to get the ice water cold enough to freeze cream. You already know what Beep and I needed to do next. Beep and I didn’t know, though. We were stuck.

We were about to abandon our lifelong dream of making Creamsicles from scratch, but then Beep remembered that you humans put salt on the roads in winter. At 32°F, water molecules link up and form crystals. Salt lowers the freezing point of water by gumming that process up. And because you’ve lowered the freezing point of water, the ice that is still ice will begin to melt. In order to melt, ice must absorb energy from the surrounding water, which lowers the water’s temperature to around 15°F. That’s cold enough to freeze cream!

The endothermic effect of adding salt to ice and water to get to temperatures below 32°F was known at least as far back as the 13th century in Syria, and possibly earlier in India. Ancient humans were smart!

Anyway, Beep and I were home and dry! Okay, we had to sneak into one of the labs and 3D print Creamsicle molds and “borrow” some Popsicle sticks from another lab. Then we were home and dry.

We combined our ingredients. We prepared our ice, water, and salt solution. We stirred, we churned, we mixed. We added mealworms. We poured the ice cream into the molds. We put the molds into the salt water. We added more ice. We added more salt. We waited. And we waited.

And then the Aquarists discovered that we were making ice cream. They made us take down our Yakhchāl (take my word for it, our Yakhchāl was pretty cool). And they took our ice cream away from us. Turtles don’t eat ice cream, they said. I know they are right. They are the experts, after all. Still, Beep and I were very sad. And we still don’t know what a Creamsicle tastes like. We don’t know what ice cream tastes like. Or sherbet or ice pops, sorbet, halo-halo, ais kacang, snow cones, shave ice, pragua, granita, faloodeh… there are so many that I want to try!

Be well,

Boop!

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Getting Here

We are located on Milwaukee’s lakefront with easy access on and off of the expressway.

500 N Harbor Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Get Directions
Adults $20
Child (3-17) $16
Child 2 & Under $Free
Senior (60+) $16
College Student* $14
Military Active and Veterans* $14
Military* Active Duty & Veterans $14

*Valid ID Required.

Prices are subject to change. Click HERE to buy tickets and for important information you need to know before visiting. 

Current Hours

Mon-Tue: Closed | Wed-Fri: 9am-4pm
Tues-Fri Mon-Tue: Closed | Wed-Fri: 9am - 4pm
Sat & Sun 9am - 4pm
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