Posted by Ernie on July 6th, 2007

Roger M. from Norristown, Pennsylvania writes:

Dear Ernie – What’s the difference between “ice cream” and “ice milk”?

ernieheadshot3.jpgThanks for your question, Roger. The term “ice milk” used to refer to any light or reduced fat ice cream. Today it’s no longer used, unless you’re referring to a glass of milk which contains ice cubes or a container of milk which has been allowed to freeze. 

Believe it or not, up until the 1980’s if the butter fat content of the product was less than 6 percent, the product had to be called “ice milk” while its full-fat cousin retained the title of “ice cream.” Needless to say, with a name like “ice milk” it wasn’t a big seller no matter how hard our marketing team tried.  During the 80’s, the ice cream industry was successful in petitioning the Federal Government to drop this nomenclature. We now use names such as reduced fat ice cream, light ice cream, low-fat ice cream, and non-fat ice cream. Lots of choices for everyone, and now a much better seller as a result of the name change.

I’m off for a bowl right now!

Leave a Comment

65 Responses to “ASK ERNIE: “ICE MILK” VS. “ICE CREAM””

  1. Dave says:

    I remember visiting my grandmother’s house and she used to ask me if I wanted some “ice milk.” I always thought it was just a Pennsylvania thing and that it was just another name for ice cream. Thanks for the info Ernie!

  2. CJ says:

    That’s interesting. The 80’s! When everyone drank regular Coke, ate real butter and made sandwiches with Wonder bread.

    My how times change. It’s great that we can be so aware of heath and well-being and still enjoy some of our favorite things. Light and low-fat ice creams are so rich and delicious one doesn’t remember they’re missing something. My rationalizing allows me to eat twice as much when it’s low-fat. ( :

    I can see how ‘ice milk’ would present a difficulty for a marketing team. The imagery there is rather unappetizing.

  3. Mel J. says:

    I never used to like the taste of “ice milk” but now I can’t really tell the reduced fat ice cream from the full fat ice cream. Turkey Hill does a great job of fooling us dieters with some great lower fat options! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

  4. Turkey Hill Team says:

    You’re welcome Dave and thanks for the compliment Mel.

    CJ – It’s funny to hear about your strategy of choosing light ice cream so you can eat twice as much. I also do that. It’s nice to hear from other people who have found a way to cheat the system!

  5. Carol says:

    It’s funny how some people won’t even try anything lowfat. I’ve heard remarks like lowfat-no taste. My sons would never touch my skim milk (blue milk as they called it). When I was growing up my mother would buy A&P Neopolitan or Vanilla Ice Milk. She would unflap the entire block of ice cream. She would then take a big knife (much smaller than Ernie’s) and cut it into 12 slices. Some slices were larger for her and dad and some were smaller for the younger ones. The remaining slices had better me equal portions or she would hear -“Her(His) piece is bigger than mine”. My mother created 10 Ice Cream Monsters from our weekend treat!What memories!

  6. Allison says:

    To be honest..if I am going to eat ice cream then I am going to eat ICE CREAM!!! I like the low fat stuff but nothing beats the blues like a bowl of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice cream with Chocolate sprinkles!!! It just tastes that much better!

  7. Ruth Kaup says:

    Sometimes my mother would buy ice milk. I never really liked it. If I’m going to enjoy a bowl of ice cream, I want the cream! LOL Thank you, Turkey Hill, for the good quality ingredients with which you make your products!

  8. renee reff says:

    I love your raspberry ice cream. years ago i remember waiting for bungalow bar ice cream trucks after school and getting a chocolate raspberry ice cream bar. for the summer we went upstate to visit the grandparents. and we would order “frappes” which was ice-cream with whip cream, syrup and sprinkles and a cherry on top. boy did i love that! nobody makes it like they did up state and i have not had one nor seen one in 25 years.

  9. Kelly D says:

    I remember ice milk bars, dipped in chocolate, nothing like the real cream in ice cream!

  10. JackSON says:

    Turkey Hill Dairy “ICE CREAM” is fantastic by itself, nonetheless, it’s also good with toppings….yum, yum, yum!

  11. todd taylor says:

    it is a much better mfg. product than it was then.
    Some taste better than reg. ice cream.

  12. Pat says:

    I remember ice milk when I was a child.

    Once in a while my mom would buy ice milk instead of ice cream. Ice cream was always much better.

    Turkey HIll is the best, in all forms, Ice Cream, non-fat, light etc.

  13. Stefanie Schmidt says:

    So technically all the low fat, low calorie ice creams are ice milk huh? Very interesting. SO many of these sacrifice taste for low calories. I love Turkey Hill no matter how many calories are in it, it is a great way to treat yourself.

  14. Ann says:

    love Peanut Butter Ripple

    Yo me i am addicted

    Could live on coffee and that alone although i know i can’t

    Seema like other people like it too have to go from store to store to find it sometimes!!!!

  15. Emma Schumann says:

    I remember ice milk. I actually liked it a lot and was one of the few people who actually bought it. I prefer ice cream, of course, but I did like ice milk too.

  16. Caroline says:

    I always thought ice milk and sherbert were the same. Ernie what is sherbert then?

  17. Sarah says:

    I’ve tried the new Duetto. You missed the boat with the cherry – it is very artificial tasting. The lemon is good and I still have to try the raspberry and mango. How about Duetto with root beer flavored ice? Just like a root beer float – YUM!

  18. Sarah says:

    Sarah(the other one)- I want to try the new Duetto. When I have it, I will get back to you if I agree with the artificialness of the cherry.

    Allison and Ruth Kaup have a point- If I eat ice cream, I eat ‘real’ ice cream.

    I shouldn’t be so prejidoused(spelling help line- how do you spell prejidoused??????????)- after all, I’ve never had low fat or anything (to my knowledge).

    Two more new things to add to the grocery store list!!!

    Mint Chocolate Chip savvy ‘peeps’ unite!!!!!! 🙂

  19. Lisa Johnson says:

    My Grandmother always hid a bowl of ice milk in the down stairs freezer at her house when I came over for a visit, so I could have a treat without my Mother knowing, LOL.

  20. Julianne Milek says:

    I just tried the new cherry Duetto and we loved it. What I would really like to see is a vanilla and orange Duetto. That reminds me of the old creamsicle flavor. So far I haven’t found a Turkey Hill flavor I don’t like.

  21. john says:

    far out // finally i’ve learned something about the dairy industry!!!

  22. peggy says:

    Ice milk was like a very milky shebet. Tasted good, but not the same to the palet as ice cream, nor did ice miik have the texture of ice cream. Today , low fat is great…and SUGAR FREE and no added sugar is the best for us sugar watchers. To Julienne Milek, Turkey Hill makes a creamsicle type sherbert , orange with vanilla ice cream or is it yougurt? –so so good.

  23. Carm,Hodgins says:

    Have always eaten Turkey Hill ice Cream, No other can compare.
    Great ice cream.
    Carm. Hodgins

  24. Karen says:

    I attended a “diet” summer camp and they served ice milk. While compared to the other offerings it was a treat it certainly pales in comparison to today’s non-fat and low fat options. I love the non-fat and low fat Turkey Hill ice creams and aside from the birth of my children haven’t missed my nightly cup in 6 years.

  25. Dani says:

    I don’t know which sounds less appetizing, “ice milk” or “non-fat ice cream.” Both of them sort of seem to suggest, “good for you, but not necessarily great tasting.”

    Thank God for FROZEN YOGURT! Yay – Turkey Hill!

  26. Laidler Campbell (Ms) says:

    I am a total outlier–I actually like ice milk better than ice cream, which tastes fatty to me, like eating butter or heavy cream by itself. I’ve been looking for ice milk here in Northern Virginia for some time and couldn’t find it, although my daughter found it when she visited Omaha around 2000–we decided it must be a Midwestern thing.

    I’ve tried the low fat and nonfat ice cream, and it really didn’t taste the same as ice milk (waaay too much sugar and vanilla flavoring), but since you say it is, I’ll try again.

  27. Dianna says:

    I can remember when “Pet” brand made “Ice Milk” and it was wonderful.
    I do not care for the creamy texture of the low fat, non fat or light ice creams. The industries are adding other additives to the ice cream to make it taste like ice cream. Myself and those who grewup on ice milk can tell the difference. the Ice Milk I remember as a young adult had icy crystals.
    If we want ice cream than myself and others would buy “ice cream”.
    Please can anyone bring back the “Real Ice Milk”?) or tell me and others where we can purchase it.

  28. Keith says:

    I for one loved Ice Milk better than ice cream!
    If I have to eat ice cream I will add 2% milk to it to dilute it anyway ~ it’s waaaay too sweet and creamy for me. Plus the vanilla ice milk tasted much more like the old fashioned vanilla milk shakes (in the metal cup).
    That’s my 2 cents worth!

  29. yaaah69 says:

    I have often wondered what happened to Icemilk , now I know . I used to eat icemilk because it was not as hard to digest the creamy kind bothers my stomach . Thanks

  30. Merle says:

    I remember when Dairy Queen used to sell real ice cream, not that ice milk crap they sell now.

    I feel sorry for the kids they have no idea what they have missed.

  31. David says:

    To all those who hated ice milk.

    While ice cream had to be above 6% butterfat before the 80’s you probably loved Dairy Queen which had 3.25% in 1970. (minimum by law if I remember right). Now I believe it is advertized as fat free. That should tell you something about what it is made from. There was also a difference between vanila and chocolate in the minimum butterfat required, chocolate was 8%.

    My fond memories where to go to a family own dairy off Rt 100 in Pennsylvania near Rt 30, that had its own dairy store and all kinds ofd flavors of ice cream made right there. Their ice cream was a whoppingh 16%. Talk about smoothe, no ice crystals in it. While it isn’t the 30% in todays Ben and Jerry’s it was good then.

  32. billy coker says:

    My Dad bought ice milk probably because it was cheaper. I began making milkshakes with ice milk and skimmed milk. If you hit on the perfect combination the ice milk would freeze the milk because it was so thin. I don’t think anything in the world tasted better chocolate or vanilla!

  33. Denise says:

    I know I’m late to the party by several years but I really loved Ice Milk ice cream and prefer it to ice cream in general, and everyone I know thinks I’m nuts. But, they haven’t had any to compare. The very few strangers I’ve spoken with who remember it remember it fondly as well. I don’t recall any flavoring in the Ice Milk we bought and Yes, it did taste pretty much like the name. Very ice cold milk with crystals of water. It’s why you see old timers get a chaser of water with their ice cream!

  34. earl says:

    In the 60s i use to buy ice milk because it was cheaper than ice cream. I loved it. I told my family about ice milk, of course like anything else I talk about from back then, they don’t beleive me.

  35. earl says:

    I just read Denise comment. I have all was wondered why I have to drink water after I eat ice cream. Now I know… I do remember a few flavors, cherry or srawberry, vinil and choc. I use to buy it from Highs.

  36. sylvia unger torelli says:

    I was surprised about the ice milk, and found this website, which explained about it. I was in the grocery store, looking around for the ice milk, can checked several frocery stores, but could not find it, and did not know what happened to it?
    So, ZI decided to get online, and try to do some research about it. I just love having the Internet, becuase one can ask crazy questions, and the computer will try to answer them! It is so smart, and they keep adding more updated stuff every day, They are always updating all the information on it, but they will also keep the history, and the old stuff from the past, so someone can can compare, and learn about what happened, and when?
    It is just like a record keeping, that everyone can access, if they are interested, and can do reaeearch about what they need to
    find out? Thanks alot, I sure miss the ice milk though, but I will have to try the low fat ice cream, or the frozen yogurts,ok?

  37. Armecy C says:

    When I was little all we ever ate was ice milk. Shortly after I married my husband, I purchased ice milk & he bout had a cow!!! He only liked ice cream. I later noticed that there was no ice milk to be had. I never knew what the difference between the two was, thanks for the info, now if I want to relive my child hood memories I’ll buy low fat ice crea. Funny thing is my in laws HATED ice milk but when the low fat ice cream became popular, that’s all they would eat!

  38. Stacey Dolenti says:

    I LOVED Ice Milk as a kid and have been looking for it for the last 30 years. Thank you for the information, now I can finally stop my search. Do you have any good Ice Milk recipes you can share since it’s no longer sold? Thanks.

  39. Dianna Harmon says:

    I miss that ice milk! Our family loved it!!!

  40. Marilyn says:

    I used to love ice milk. I had it at my grandmothers house all the time when I was little. Unfortunately, low fat ice cream is nothing like the ice milk I remember; which used real ingredients, not guar gum and corn syrup and all those fillers and preservatives found in today’s products….especially the ones labeled “low fat”.

  41. Sidney says:

    They still make ice milk, you cant buy it in the stores i dont think but certain restaurants around where I live still serve it and I love it! I hate ice cream but ill eat the heck out of ice milk lol. Im actually making a homemade batch right now 🙂

  42. Mel says:

    I’ve had some nonfat ice creams that were surprisingly good.
    I don’t know what they did to get the texture to feel like hi-test ice cream but I am impressed

  43. Lisa Suddarth says:

    Hadleys fruit stand inCabazon uses ice milk in their shakes. They have asign up that says thriftys ice cream. I have no idea where they get the ice milk. Could be making itthere?

  44. elizbeth says:

    Regarding Sydney’s reply. You must be getting ice mild mixed up with light ice cream. All of the above Ice Milk Lovers (as myself) knows they are not the same and it can’t be found anywhere, at least not at any/all the stores we have looked in. Hey, you say you are making it at home, if tastes like ice mike and not like light ice cream, you may have yourself a zillion dollar business in the making!

  45. Li says:

    I’ve never liked ice cream on hot summer days – it’s way too heavy. Ice milk, on the other hand, was much more refreshing with its built-in ice crystals! No way today’s low-fat even compares. I don’t see what was wrong with the name “ice milk” … it was what it was, and didn’t pretend to be anything else.

  46. Vickie says:

    I am another fan of ice milk. Some do not like the thick creamy taste of ice cream today even if it is low fat. I wish it would make a come back. The best part was the lightness of the taste and also the ice crystals throughout. I always remember how refreshing it tasted rather than the weighted down feeling that occurs after after eating the heavy, creamy ice cream of today.

  47. Linda N. says:

    I remember having Ice Milk with my Aunt Loretta, it tasted so good. I am not sure that low fat taste or is the same. Ice Milk had crystals as I remember and was really good tasting and light. All I know is that when something works this world gets rid of it.

  48. Jimmycann says:

    Eating ice cream (or any other decadent dessert or treat of any kind) that is meddled with by reducing the fat and or sugar content in it, is a very pathetic, stupid action.
    Anyone who does this is a gluttonous fool that thinks they are enjoying themselves. They are indulging in THE most primitive, unsophisticated form of pleasure known to man. People that give up on EVERYTHING and just suck into their mouths- foods as a source of pleasure…..sickening.
    If you’re going to attempt to enjoy eating- at least do it right. Eat high quality foods, but eat less of them so you don’t gain weight and or decrease their physical health in some way.
    If you can’t do that- you have no self discipline, self respect or the intelligence to be able to partake in other forms pleasurable behavior. You are the most pathetic, slothen waste of space there is (tied for last with most of the pathetic on Earth- 60% or more of the population).

  49. YVONNE says:


  50. Andrea says:

    Found this page today after eating a reduced-calorie ice cream bar and musing, whatever happened to ice milk? fascinated by the fact that in more than seven years of discussion, the same people who can understand that “ice milk” was not an appealing label have no problem buying an ice cream that has “Turkey” in the name. Seriously!? I never can get past that when I see it in the grocery store, even though I realize it is surely named after a place.

    More than likely, if someone served me TH ice cream in a bowl without telling me that was what brand it was, I would be as impressed as the rest of you. I am seeing the same devotion here that we see locally for Blue Bell. But that NAME!! 🙂

  51. Patricia says:

    I am Patricia, as a teenager, before 1980’s I used to work at a dairy food drive inn and we served Ice Milk. I LOVE ice milk!!! Still till this day, I crave looking for ice milk and like a BIG KID when I find the place, I am SO EXCITED! I will drive for miles to get my treat. I will eat a large ice milk cone and a large cup of ice milk. Sad to say it is HARD to find it today! :(((( I would love to share the place who still serves it today May 2015, but afraid someone will have them stop selling ice milk. Now, the same food chain sells at one location but other location across town does not, crazy! So I will drive for miles, just to enjoy my ice milk, and sad they are closed on Sunday. ;)))))

    • Maria says:

      I enjoyed having ice milk floats with my great-grandmother. I was telling my husband just yesterday that I wish I could find ice milk instead of ice cream. Any chance you would share it privately with me? Please

  52. Cristi says:

    I really just don’t understand why people didn’t like “ice milk.” It was all my family ever ate. We all loved ice milk. The very words “ice milk” speak to me of a refreshing, tasty dessert. I just read an interview with a Darigold rep who said people thought of frozen ice crystals and that turned them off–but one of my favorite things about ice milk was the way little ice crystals would form when you used it in a float. I intensely dislike “creamy” desserts of any kind as well as anything too sweet (like sherbet) and have been heartbroken for years by the loss of my favorite dessert. So thank you for finally letting us know that it never disappeared: the industry just renamed it. I’ll be picking up a carton of ice milk soon, thanks to you!

  53. Nathan Gilpin says:
    we used to get Hershey’s ice milk. Always liked it mainly for the granular texture. icy when you added a little milk…oooh it’s so good! wish there was something like it in the freezer today.

  54. Scarlett says:

    After reading all the posts, I am relieved to see that I am far from the only one who prefers ice milk. I, too, loved the little crystals in it, and I agree it tasted much fresher and lighter than regular ice cream. I’ve tried the “low fat” and “light” ice creams of today, and I am disappointed that they are still too creamy and heavy for me and taste nothing like real ice milk. I found some recipes for ice milk online, but I am basically lazy and they seem like too much work. I wish someone would take a clue from all of us looking for this item and produce it! Not all changes made to things are improvements, ya know.

  55. Gene says:

    I also love ice milk vs ice cream, the brand I grew up on was “Golden State Co.” it was purchased by “Foremost”, and the product was the same quality. Have not had the opportunity to have any for over 30 years. My favorite was “Marble Fudge”

  56. sylvia says:

    I found my old post again, I almost forgot all about it, and when, I posted it though,
    I stopped posting,

  57. terry says:

    If I’m gonna add my own flavoring on vanilla, I’d much prefer ice milk. If its a premade flavored such as butter pecan then maybe ice cream is the better way to go. No sure though.

    We usually put ice mile in a bowl, add milk and Hersey chocolate, stir it up and make a milk shake out of it.

  58. Chef David says:

    Sorry but you are not only in the wrong field, you are at the wrong ball park. Ice milk is made from less than ten percent fat milk, sugar, and flavoring. Ice milk is prepared in an ice cream machine. Ice milk is much healthier than Ice cream. Ice milk is still made commercially and sold all over the world, Including USA. One can make ice milk at home in twenty minutes. Even the the corrupt FDA changed the rules, Ice cream IS NOT ice cream unless it contains CREAM. Modern cheap Ice Cream uses buttermilk and dangerous mono and diglycerides* in place of expensive cream. *(mono and diglyceries are processed TRANS FAT, where chemists remove ONE MOLECULE and according to the FDA that isnt fat anymore).

  59. Rich Reske says:

    I began an internet search for the availability of Ice Milk since it is recommended by my Oncologist, as well as many other things, while i am going through chemotherapy. After discussing this blog with my wife she quickly told me that “I’ve had Ice Milk several times” of course i asked “from where” ?
    “Chik-fil-A”….hmmm i thought don’t remember that, chemo brain strikes again. So if you are fortunate to have a
    Chik-fil-A in your area you’re in luck except on Sunday’s when they’re closed.

    • Melba says:

      That’s ice “dream”, not ice milk.
      Not that chik-fil-A’s version of ice cream is bad, but it’s not really ice milk.
      Actually the best way to have their ice dream is in the form of one of their frosted lemonades, very tasty.
      Although it seems kind of odd your oncologist would be pushing you to eat low fat ice cream…
      Did they give you a reason why eating it was a good idea?

  60. Melba says:

    Growing up I remember ice milk as the stuff we begrudgingly ate when no ice cream was available.
    My Grandmother would occasionally buy it, which resulted in us complaining incessantly like the ungrateful little boogers we were.

  61. Nikki Smith says:

    I miss Ice Milk. My grandmother always had it on hand. I used to buy it before it disappeared. I’m not a fan of reduced fat ice cream, I confess. I still will add milk to my ice cream to try to mimic what I remember 😉

  62. Patrick says:

    I remember back in the late 80s/early 90s my paternal grandmother offering me some ice milk. I thought it was some Deep Southern Country/Old South Country term for ice cream, until I saw her take the carton of PET brand (I don’t think Turkey Hill was available in her area at the time, which was a rather small town in east Alabama; only grocery store was a Foodland) ice milk out of the freezer. It tasted the same flavor-wise, but I think it melted more quickly than ice cream and definitely wasn’t as thick as ice cream.

  63. Linda says:

    A 1994 change in United States Food and Drug Administration rules allowed ice milk to be labeled as low-fat ice cream in the United States.

Leave a Reply


These comments are intended to be a discussion of the information presented in the blog postings. Any product-related questions or other issues not related to the post should be referred to our consumer response team through the link on our Contact Us page, as they are the true experts in answering any questions or concerns you may have about Turkey Hill and its products.

The Ice Cream Journal is a public forum and comments left here will be visible by all visitors (e-mail addresses will not be visible). When making comments, please adhere to standard guidelines of decorum and respect. Turkey Hill reserves the right to edit or delete comments in violation of these guidelines.