This is what Dairy Queen's 'ice cream' is really made of

In 2019, Dairy Queen moved its headquarters (via Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal). There, on two floors connected by a staircase with ice cream cone-painted walls, is the infrastructure necessary to perfect new flavors and products. In the office's newly designed test kitchens, QA, and product development labs, scientists work continually on quality assurance and menu development (via Greiner Construction and Edina Magazine). 

We don't how Dairy Queen's soft serve is made. Presumably, along with its labs, Dairy Queen also moved the safe deposit box that holds the secret recipe to Dairy Queen's famous soft serve to Bloomington (via ABC News). We do, however, know what's in it.

Let's get one thing out of the way before we dive into the details. It's not actually ice cream. Yes, it's cold, creamy, sugary, and delicious. But according to the FDA, ice cream has to have at least 10 percent milk fat. Dairy Queen's soft serve has just 5 percent (via Eat This, Not That!). Why? According to Forbes, the 5 percent fat content makes the ice cream perfect for serving at its signature temperature, 18 degrees.

But Dairy Queen's soft serve recipe includes more surprising ingredients, still.  

There's red seaweed in Dairy Queen's secret formula

It's worth noting that 40 percent of a Dairy Queen soft serve is air (via Wired). But that's not abnormal. According to the American Chemical Society, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of any ice cream is. What's in the other 60 percent? 

Dairy Queen's recipe, as listed on its website, is full of FDA-approved, but worrying ingredients. Take the mono and diglycerides, which ensure smooth texture (via Prospector). According to Science Direct, these can cause irritation in high concentrations and must be carefully controlled in food products. Then there's the guar gum that prevents ice crystal growth in soft serve (via Science Direct). When used in other manufacturing processes (think carpet manufacturing and pet food production), guar gum has been linked to asthma, abdominal pain, flatulence, diarrhea, and cramps. 

Dairy Queen also lists Polysorbate 80 as an ingredient. Polysorbate 80, which binds ice cream together, has been linked to cancer and adverse reproductive effects in animals, although no human data has been found (via The Good Human). Finally, Dairy Queen's soft serve includes carrageenan, an FDA-approved carbohydrate derived from red seaweed (via HuffPost). Carrageenan gives your soft serve the thickness you crave. Unfortunately, similarly to Polysorbate 80, it's linked to inflammation, gut irritation, and cancer in animals (via Prevention). 

Have we turned you off of Dairy Queen? You can make (real) homemade soft-serve ice cream at home with dry ice, milk, cream, and sugar (via Bigger Bolder Baking).