We tried “goth ice cream” so you don’t have to wait an hour in line to see what it’s all about.
When goth ice cream started showing up in our social media feeds we were intrigued. But what REALLY got us interested is hearing that the dark color comes from activated charcoal. Here are our findings about this trending ingredient and the verdict on goth ice cream.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Burning wood, coconut shell or another material creates regular charcoal. Heating the charcoal again with gas “activates” it. This process expands the surface area and creates small pores. When you ingest activated charcoal, these pores help trap harmful chemicals in the body, preventing them from absorbing into the gut.
Doctors will often use activated charcoal to treat food poisoning and acute drug overdoses. Now though, the detoxifying benefits are being adapted in smaller doses to fix anything you can think of. Activated charcoal is said to whiten teeth, prevent hangovers, and even relieve flatulence.
However, studies show less conclusive results for these latter applications.
What Is It Doing In Goth Ice Cream?
In a detox-obsessed culture, you can now find activated charcoal in all sorts of products including face masks, lemonade – and yes, ice cream.
Enter, Little Damage Ice Cream Shop in downtown Los Angeles. Their pitch black activated charcoal cones and soft serve flavors have taken social media by storm. Although, given that their second most-popular flavor is pastel blue “Unicorn Tears,” we suspect that the charcoal is more for buzz-worthy appearances than any healthy claims.
Still, we had to check with our trusted nutrition experts to see what they think about the activated charcoal craze, and whether it can claim any health benefits in ice cream.
“Activated charcoal’s effects are dependent on several molecular and chemical reactions,” says holistic nutritionist Pamela Gibson. “Due to the complex interplay of digestive enzymes, it’s safe to say that adding it to dessert is just a trend. The concepts are extracted from scientific literature, but diluted and stripped of their specificity.”
So sadly, no, this ice cream does not detoxify much of anything. Ice cream aside, Alex Caspero, RD, gives this additional warning on turning to activated charcoal as a cure-all for minor ailments:
“The way it’s presented, activated charcoal does not discriminate between what it sees as ‘toxins’ and helpful ‘nutrients.’ So, if it does eliminate ‘toxins,’ then it also eliminates ‘nutrients’—not the effect that most of us are going for.”
Personally, I enjoy the Dark Cinn charcoal flavor over the Unicorn Tears at Little Damage. The black cone is definitely a ‘gram-worthy novelty. But, I’m not sure either warrants waiting in line for an hour again. Especially if it’s interfering with my nutrient intake!