British ice cream wizard Charlie Francis has created a glow-in-the-dark ice cream using synthesized jellyfish proteins — the same ones that allow these marine animals to produce light inside their bodies.
The only snag is, the glowing confection costs around $US220 a scoop. So don’t expect to find it on supermarket shelves anytime soon, if ever.
On the upside, Francis says the product “tastes pretty good” and it doesn’t appear to be dangerous. “I don’t seem to be glowing anywhere,” he added.
(Proteins get broken down by our digestive system before entering the bloodstream, so there’s no reason to think he would end up glowing).
Francis is the owner of Lick Me I’m Delicious, which specialises in exotic ice cream flavours. They’ve experimented with more than two-hundred flavours, including roast beef, salted whiskey caramels, rhubarb chocolate macaroons, raspberry mojito, and cheddar cheese, Francis said in an email.
The so-called “edible inventor” began thinking about a glow-in-the-dark ice cream around six months ago while looking for a small red berry — known as miracle fruit — that when eaten, causes sour foods, like a lemon, to taste sweet like candy.
During this time, he came across a research paper on jellyfish and a property that allows them to emit light, called bioluminescence.
“I immediately started geeking up on the subject and eventually found a lab in China, where they are synthesizing the protein and I spoke to the scientists there who agreed to ship me over a sample,” Francis said.
How does it work?
“The protein we’re using in the ice cream reacts with your tongue at neutral PH,” explains Francis, “so as your mouth warms up the protein, it will raise the PH level and start to glow.”
The protein is still in the early days of production so just 2 grams of the stuff costs around $US320, according to Francis.
Francis decided to unleash the green fluorescent ice cream on Halloween. He’s also developed a gin and tonic sorbet that glows in the dark because of the quinine in the tonic, which glows under UV light.
“I really want to develop an invisible ice cream,” Francis said. “It’s inherently impossible because of the refraction caused by the ice crystals which make up the ice cream, but I reckon we’ll find a way of doing it.”