Cool Chemistry - Y Magazine
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Cool Chemistry

Jerry Hancock
Jerry Hancock

Jerry V. Hancock (BA ’98) never imagined that studying chemistry at BYU would lead him to operate a food-service business. But that’s his job these days—making creamy ice cream that goes from liquid to solid in about 15 seconds—and he touts his Sub Zero Ice Cream shop in Orem, Utah, as a place where science and ice cream mix.

Hancock dons a white lab coat to greet his customers and provides a science-lab atmosphere with chemistry texts, beakers, glowing orbs, and a stainless-steel tank of liquid nitrogen.

Patrons select ice cream, custard, or yogurt and choose flavors and mix-ins. The mixture is then frozen with a spray of nitrogen.

While some of Hancock’s regulars simply come in for the ice cream, new customers often want to hear his explanations of what nitrogen is and how crystal structure affects ice-cream texture. “The faster the freezing, the smaller the crystals,” Hancock says. “This makes the ice cream smoother on the tongue.”

“Had I not majored in chemistry, I would not have recognized that this kind of ice-cream making was even possible,” he says. “I came across the idea, played around with it, and emerged with what I think is a great product.”