The Science of Sneak

The Science of Sneak
Fernando de Sousa, Wikimedia Commons
In a previous episode, I extolled the virtues of ice cream mochi as a personal-sized, slow-melting, low-drip option for enjoying frozen treats after the fading of the footlights. In my continuing quest to bring you the very best information on how to sneak the foods you want into the movies you enjoy, I have embarked on a voyage of scientific inquiry that makes Darwin's time aboard the Beagle look like the man passed out drunk on a chaise after chugging too many rum runners during the pre-buffet Broadway medley on Deck 22.

Here, condensed for you with the incisive skill and fervor of a thousand Reader's Digests, are the lab notes from my most recent investigation, "An Inquiry Into the Efficacy of Endothermic Chemical Reactions in the Preservation of Frozen Treats":


click to enlarge The Science of Sneak
Dara Strickland
- Two (2) first-aid cold packs that operate via instant endothermic reaction once the inner chamber is breached by vigorous squeezing. These packs are designed to be placed directly on the skin and, while quite cold to the touch, could be placed in a pocket or bag that allowed the chill to leach through light summer clothing without discomfort.

- One (1) pint of Caramelized Pear and Toasted Pecan ice cream

- One (1) pint of Raspberry sorbet

- Tape


click to enlarge The Science of Sneak
Dara Strickland
I removed the two pints of ice cream from the freezer and placed them next to each other on the kitchen counter. External temperature 72 degrees F. I activated both endothermic cold packs and wrapped them around the lateral planes of the combined pints. Taped the whole thing in place, cursed when the tape slipped off the frost-rimed cardboard of the ice cream containers, added more tape. Tape. TAPE.

(Note: In future experiments, I will use duct tape or packing tape to ensure appropriate levels of tape-age.)

After the endothermic cooling packs were appropriately rigged, I placed them within a standard handbag to demonstrate the easy clandestine portability of the entire apparatus. Removed, returned to counter to continue time-trial portion of the experiment.

Observations at 30 Minutes

click to enlarge The Science of Sneak
Dara Strickland
Frost still visible on the exposed sides of each container. Very slight visible softening of the top of both the sorbet and the real ice cream. When poked with a spoon, the core was still solidly frozen approximately one-quarter inch from the surface and the spoon easily stood upright. Both pints were just reaching the point of delicious consumption consistency. Half an hour is the very scientifically calculated maximum time (minus dawdling) between freezer and purchased seat in the St. Louis area. No dripping observed, minimal condensation. With the endothermic pack thus affixed, ice creams of the type surveyed would theoretically be too cold to eat until after the opening title card.

Observations at One Hour

click to enlarge The Science of Sneak
Dara Strickland
Pints removed from endothermic "chill cradle" for full inspection. While the frost that had been visible on the exposed sides at half an hour was gone, there was still significant presence of ice crystals on the cardboard container sides that abutted the other pint. Surface and perimeter visibly softened, but spoon-poking yielded evidence of a solidly frozen core approximately a half inch into the interior of both pints. Spoon still stood upright. Some soupiness observed in the ice cream, but the sorbet was still of a largely uniform consistency due to higher water to fat ratio. No dripping observed, though how this would bear out in non-laboratory conditions of jostling remains to be seen. Condensation well within a single towel unit on the Brawny Scale. One hour is sufficient time to travel to the theater, be seated, enjoy the main snuck meal, and leisurely enjoy the ice cream as dessert.

Conclusions and Applications

While this investigation was somewhat limited in time and scope, it has impressive practical applications for the maintenance of optimal deliciousness to the one-hour mark. Beyond one hour, additional chilling measures, such as wrapping the apparatus in insulating layers of aluminum foil and duct tape, must be implemented, and the boundaries of the endothermic pack alone was not pressed to such levels. Even without these additional tests, it's easy to see that the endothermic cold packs alone will keep ice cream of various kinds at sneakable and delicious temperature levels for at least one hour.

The Doctor, my mysterious long time gentleman caller and an actual scientist, was coaxed into helping me implement and track this experiment with the lure of home-cooked dinner, affection. Ever inquisitive, his main concern was not with my methodology but with its application. When so many movie theaters sell some kind of ice cream novelty...thing...and a movie is but two hours long, what is the point of delaying when the ice cream melts, pushing the limits from furtive, cranial-freezing slurping during the credits to taking the first frost-bound bite just as an M. Night Shyamalan movie becomes unwatchably silly?

While I take a certain Mallory-to-Everest approach to the justification of any sneaking challenge, the Doctor had not considered many things: homemade ice cream brought into a summer blockbuster; flavors impossible to procure at the theater; the joy of choosing when to eat dessert rather than having temperature play tyrant to your tastebuds; and, perhaps the greatest of all, the possibility that one day I will perfect my methods so entirely as to successfully sneak and chill a milkshake from Crown Candy Kitchen into a movie.

Dara Strickland is a leading expert on sneaking food and drink into the movies. She reports on her exploits for Gut Check (from an undisclosed location) every Monday.
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