This week, Out of Office is celebrating all things ice cream. Follow along as we explore the sweet history and unexpected influences of America’s favorite dessert.
If you’re the type to pour M&Ms into your movie popcorn, you already know that salty-sweet is an unbeatable flavor combination.
One french fry shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side has taken the flavor profile to new heights, merging sweet Tahitian vanilla bean soft serve with potato chips. 375 Fries’ new creation — dubbed Milk ’n Chips — unifies two very different types of cravings, while also satisfying the delight of tasting multiple textures in food.
It’s an elevated version of dipping your french fry into a milkshake — so no surprise, it works deliciously.
What makes salty and sweet an unbeatable pairing?
The addicting combination can be explained by science. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that certain sugar receptors on the taste buds only transport the taste of sweetness when sodium is also present. This “sodium-dependent glucose transporter” — called SGLT1 — is a trick that many chefs implement in their own kitchens. A bit of salt can help bring out the sweetness of an ingredient, from sea salt on chocolate mousse to Tajin, a chili-based seasoning, on mangoes.
An easy way to test this at home: Sprinkle some salt on a piece of fruit, like watermelon, strawberries or pineapple. The fruit’s sweetness will be intensely enhanced. Alternatively, add some salty toppings, like pretzels, peanuts or salted caramel to your ice cream.
At 375 Fries, the vanilla soft serve acts as the base. The honey-glazed potato chips are then added, and then the treat is topped with apple crumbs and honey-butter syrup. Both the ice cream and the apple topping are made better by the potato chips, and the texture — which is crucial to taste — is improved, too. The result is a delightful juxtaposition of salty and sweet, soft and crunchy.
Moral of this story: The next time you order a scoop of something sweet, think wisely about your toppings.