Bubblegum ice cream is a version of the frozen dessert treat that has either been infused with the distinctive flavor of bubblegum or actually has pieces of bubble gum mixed into it. Many companies that produce bubblegum ice cream use standard vanilla ice cream as a base, after which a chemical flavoring or small bits of actual bubble gum are added to achieve the correct taste. The ice cream is then churned and packaged as usual. The flavor is mostly considered a novelty and is not produced or distributed as widely as more traditional ice cream flavors, although it is frequently present at festivals, fairs and other events where the bubblegum can be chewed long after the ice cream has been eaten.
The unique taste of bubblegum ice cream is derived from the flavor profile of bubblegum. This flavor is the result of a mixture of several oils, chemicals and other ingredients and does not occur in any single natural product. The artificial nature of the bubblegum flavor makes it easier for manufacturers to reproduce the flavor in ice cream, because the flavors do not have a pure, natural counterpart that has properties that could be difficult to reproduce.
It is possible to make bubblegum ice cream at home. The ice cream is prepared normally, with the exception of the addition of bubblegum to the cream and sugar mixture as it is heating. The heat will draw out the flavors of whatever type of bubblegum is used. After the flavors are extracted, the bubblegum is strained out and the ice cream can be finished as it normally would be.
Even though there is a familiar overall bubblegum flavor, some manufacturers use specific brands of bubblegum in their ice cream. This can, in part, be the result of marketing agreements, but it also can be because some bubblegum brands have a more distinctive flavor than others. In these instances, flavored bubblegum also might be used, imparting the taste of lemon, strawberries or cherries into the ice cream along with the undertones of bubblegum.
When actual pieces of bubblegum are added directly to ice cream, they are generally broken down into small chunks so they can more easily be eaten. While bubblegum will pass harmlessly through most digestive tracts, large amounts of bubblegum can create blockages that could require medical attention. When served in an ice cream shop, bubblegum is sometimes added in pieces that are large enough to discourage their consumption as part of the rest of the ice cream. For similar reasons, some bubblegum ice cream manufacturers place the real bubblegum on the bottom of the container only, so it can be enjoyed as treat separate from the ice cream itself.