What’s In a Name?

ice cream

I believe it was Shakespeare that told us, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” His point being that the name of something does not affect what it really is.  However, lately I have started to notice that some names are changing and that names have changed precisely because the “thing” has changed.

The other night I decided to have some ice cream which is not unusual in any sense of the word.  I like ice cream and I will admit I eat more ice cream than I should.  However this time as I reached into the freezer and pulled out the carton, something caught my eye.  The carton did not state this was “ice cream,” stated that this was “frozen dairy dessert.”

Believe it or not, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, Dairy Division has developed a definition of ice cream that has not changed since my freshman year of college.  Per the USDA definition, ice cream will “weigh not less than 4.5 punds to the gallon, and contain not less than 20 percent total milk solids, constituted of not less than 10 percent milk fat.”  If the product does not meet the USDA definition, it cannot be labeled as “ice cream.”  I also did a search for a USDA definition of “frozen dairy dessert” which did not produce any results.  So, I can say that what I was eating was not “ice cream”; however, I am not sure that I can say what it actually was.  I can tell you that it tasted different than “ice cream” and you can trust me as a former professional ice cream dipper (my first job). I know ice cream.

I have also noticed other instances where the “rose” is no longer a “rose.”  Recently I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (no, not grilled, that is another story).  I had to open a new jar of jelly and when I pulled it out, I noticed that it stated it was grape “spread.”  Yes, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, Fruit and Vegetable Division, Processed Products Branch has produced United States Standards for Grades of Fruit Jelly which have been in effect since my junior year of college.  These standards are voluntary and detail 4 kinds of fruit jelly but is silent on what constitutes fruit “spread.”  So again, I know more about what I was not eating that what I was eating.

I recently went to KFC and noticed that to top off the biscuit that came with my meal I was given buttery spread and honey spread.  Again there are standards for butter (even margarine) and honey, but I did not find any government standards for buttery spread or honey spread.

A rose by another other name might continue to smell as sweet, but frozen dairy dessert does not takes as sweet as ice cream and grape spread does not taste the same as grape jelly.  It has been said that “you are what you eat.”  I guess I am heading into a bit of an identity crises.



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