Razzles candies turn into gum. Lava lamps are just plain cool, mood rings tell the wearer what she already knows and mobile phones may soon transmit scents. Now comes another entry into the sensory marketplace: Xamaleón, an ice cream invention of physicist Manuel Linares that changes color as it is licked.
Indeed, licking is essential to the color shifting process. All that is known about how it works is that the ice cream reacts with the acidity of saliva and the heat of a tongue. Beyond that Professor Linares gives nothing away, as the patent for his edible invention is pending. However, he insists that all the ingredients in his psychedelic treat are natural.
The color of the ice cream changes from a lilac blue to pink and then purple and the flavor is described as tutti frutti. Before serving each magnum opus, employees at Linares’ IceXperience ice cream shops in Spain spray their product with a secret brew he calls a “love elixir” to accelerate the color-changing phenomenon.
A 37-year-old physicist and postdoctoral Fellow from Instituto de Astrof´ısica de Canarias, Linares has a penchant for atypical cuisine. Inspired to drop physics and pursue food, Linares received mentoring from the Asociación Empresarial Nacional de Elaboradores Artesanos y Comerciantes de Helados y Horchatas — a Spanish association of businessmen and craftsmen – while pursuing what he called a “Masters Diploma in Creating Artisan Ice Cream” at Barcelona’s Hotel Business School Hoffman. It was there that, in an ice cream class, a teacher instructed Linares and other pupils to invent a new ice cream flavor. Instead, Linares blew away his classmates by fixating on looks before taste.
Manuel Linares recalled his classmates laughing when he stated his intent to create ice cream that changes color. He initially had a number of ideas of how, as a physicist, he would be successful. “I was delighted when I managed to crack it and create an ice cream that changes color,” he said. Assisted by a couple of friends in a lab rented with his own funds, the trio landed on a color-changing ice cream formula within a week.
Linares describes himself as a “huge fan” of British “ice cream genius” Charlie Harry Francis, the charismatic creator of a glow-in-the-dark ice cream and founder of the “Lick Me I’m Delicious” ice cream company. “I wanted to … do something new as well,” he said.
Xamaleón means “chameleon” in Catalan, the mother tongue of Barcelona and Catalonia. Two other ice cream parlors are buying his product and Linares hopes to find other buyers outside his country. IceXperience stores are located in Barcelona, Calella de Mar and Linares’ hometown of Blanes, Girona.
Coming up with one revolutionary food product is not enough for Manuel Linares, who has at least two more outrageous ice cream ideas in his brain. First, he wants to make ice cream a principal calorie source for partiers, working as he is on an ice cream that reacts to the ultraviolet lights (black lights) that often illuminate nightclubs. Second is an ice cream he has already named Xamán which, thanks to medicinal plants from Africa and Peru, will reportedly instill an aphrodisiac effect on the licker.
By Gregory Baskin