It is a modest start but the concept is sending cold shivers across the ice cream universe: A Spanish physicist has developed Xamaleon, a new form of ice cream that changes colors as it is licked.
So far, Manuel Linares has put on the market just one tutti-frutti flavor, which turns from a pale periwinkle blue to tones of purple and pink at the touch of the tongue. But he is working on one that goes from white to pink, he told Fox News Latino in a phone interview from the port city of Blanes, north of Barcelona.
“I didn’t see the transcendence that this is having,” he said, adding that since launching the product in June he has received phone calls and emails from businesses in Germany, Singapore, Russia, Miami and other places looking to market it. “Nothing like Nestle, just small ice cream companies,” he clarifies.
The frozen treat is made of strawberries, cocoa, almonds, banana, pistachio, vanilla, caramel and undisclosed "exotic fruits." Also undisclosed is the formula Linares came up with for the colorful experience, since Xamaleon (close to chameleon in Spanish) hasn’t been patented yet. He expects the patenting process to be done by the end of August or sooner.
Linares, 37, studied physics and electrical engineering and went on to work as a high school teacher of physics and math before making the sweet discovery. He told Fox News Latino he plans to continue teaching this coming semester because it is in his character not to rush into something he may regret.
“I have both feet on the ground,” he said, “My backpack is ready for [the beginning of classes] in September.”
Also, he landed the teaching gig in 2002, at the height of the financial crisis, and he doesn’t want to let it go that easily. “I didn’t have a duro [penny],” he recalled.
Still, it didn’t take him long to get restless in the classroom and in need of an outlet from the teaching pressure.
"I didn’t know how to cook and I wanted to learn. I love teaching but it is a profession that generates too much stress. I needed an outlet," he explained.
That’s when he decided to enroll in the Hofmann School of Cuisine, one of the best regarded in Europe, and take one-year courses on different areas of gastronomy – pastry making, traditional Japanese. Eventually he developed an interest for ice cream making and became a student at the ANHCEA (Anhcea Asociación Empresarial Nacional de Elaboradores Artesanos y Comerciantes) in Jijona, not far from home.
At the end of the course, he recalls, his teacher came up with all kinds of challenges – hot ice cream, among them – and specifically challenged Linares to find the protein that would make a color-changing ice cream.
“Yo tengo mucho morro,” he said in Sapnish, a very colloquial way of saying he is a very perseverant, obstinate and purposeful person. “If you tell me I won’t be able to do something, I go ahead and do it.”
Xamaleon is currently for sale only in a couple of places, one of them an ice cream shop he owns in Blanes called IceXperience.
And this may only be the beginning. Linares said he is working on “Xaman,” an aphrodisiacal ice cream created with maca, a medicinal plant from Peru. “I don’t want to test it until my girlfriend comes back from vacation,” he says jokingly but also matter-of-factly.
“I don’t quite understand, with all the money that is moved in the summer season, how nobody took this route before,” he says. “I always thought physicists were not supposed to be imaginative, but joder! (come on!) all that is needed is just a little bit of imagination!”