I’ll take 2 scoops of jellyfish ice cream, hold the nematocysts, please!

We’ve all enjoyed animal inspired ice cream flavors like Moose Tracks and Chunky Monkey. I even remember having some Lobster ice cream at a quaint little dairy bar in Maine, but what about jellyfish ice cream?

Well, thanks to crazily creative ice cream mad scientist Charlie Harry Francis,  you can now enjoy an ice cream inspired by everyone’s favorite tentacle-bearing planktonic invertebrate, the jellyfish.

You maybe be wondering, what goes into making jellyfish ice cream? Are jellyfish one of the ingredients? Will the nematocysts (defensive barbs on the tentacles of all Cnidarians) sting my tongue? Or, in some miracle of gastronomy, do the milk and eggs neutralize the stingers?

Luckily, for the sake of our tongues, and the jellies, no animals were harmed in the making of this peculiar new ice cream flavor. In fact, this is more of a jellyfish-inspired ice cream, than an actual jellyfish ice cream.

In his quest to make new and different ice cream flavors, Francis came across the research of a scientist in China who has managed to synthesize the protein present in some jellyfish that makes them bioluminescent. In collaboration with the scientist, Francis used the bioluminescent protein to create his jellyfish ice cream, which, did I forget to mention: glows in the dark.

The ice cream starts off looking like any average scoop, until you dig in. It is the interaction of the synthetic protein and the tongue of the ice cream-licker that activates the protein, making the ice cream glow.

Thanks to research in China, the proteins that make these jellies light up can now make your ice cream glow!
Thanks to research in China, the proteins that make this jelly light up can now make your ice cream glow!

I think this glow in the dark ice cream is particularly cool, because it illustrates how broad the field of biomimetics (using living things as models for man-make materials) can be. This field has lead to important advancements in terms of how we design our boats, planes, robots, etc. But it always important to look at the lighter side of things, and harness the power of science for fun/delicious inventions too!

Can’t wait to try some glow-in-the-dark, jellyfish ice cream? Well, as you can imagine, this labor intensive treat comes at a high price. Better start saving now, or put this dessert on your holiday wish list, because 1 scoop costs $225! So while I’d love to lick a glowing scoop, I’ll probably sticky to Moose Tracks for my animal-inspired ice cream cravings….

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