Featured Item of the Week = Gelato & Sorbet at Munchy Mart


This last month was the hottest August in over 100 years of Colorado's history. Sweltering heat and little moisture may leave you feeling the need for a quick cool down. Dining Services has just the thing to chill your body and thrill your taste buds.

The new Munchy Mart at the University Center now offers Gelato and Sorbet. There are seven flavors of gelato four sorbets to choose from. If you have never tried gelato before, you may be curious what it is. If you have tried gelato, you already know it'is similar to ice cream. Somehow it's different in taste, texture, and flavor... but you may not know why. So, I thought for this week I would help answer some of those questions by offering more than you ever wanted to know about Gelato.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to a gelato and pastry company in North Carolina. While I was there they offered a vast amount of information, including some history of where this frozen treat originated.

  • 3000 B.C. = Traces of frozen sorbet in Oriental cultures. Cooked Rice, spices and milk put into snow to freeze. It was Marco Polo who brought recipes for water ices to Europe from China.
  • 2500 B.C. = In Egypt, pharaoh's offer guests a cup of ice and fruit juices. (Quite the treat for not having refrigeration)
  • Phoenician Period = Phoenician's mix snow from mountains and fresh fruits forming some of the first Sherbets. During this period the sherbet came to Sicily which was a Phoenician Colony. In 214 B.C. Sicily became a roman province.
  • 1 A.D. = General Quinto Fabio Massimo of Rome introduces consuming ice of the Etna and Vesuvius volcanoes with honey
  • 1500-1550 A.D.= Ruggeri, a non-professional chef from Florence, participates in the Medici family cooking contest and wins with sorbet
  • 1550-1600 A.D. = Ices reach popularity in Florence. Bernardo Buontalenti, an architect, sculptor and painter prepares a base of milk, honey, egg yolks and a touch of wine creating an aromatized Zabajone of sorts.
  • 1686 A.D. = Francesco Procopio, a fisherman from Sicily, opens Le Café Procope in Paris, offering different kinds of sorbets and Gelato's
  • 1770 A.D. = Giovanni Basiolo introduces gelato in New York
  • 2011 A.D. = UNC Dining Services opens Munchy Mart serving gelato and sorbets.


There are some major differences between gelato and ice cream. The process for making gelato incorporates less air than ice cream, leaving you with a product that is denser and creamier in texture. Gelato is lower in fat than ice cream (by approx. 10%) and is lower in calories on average (by approx. 30%). Flavors for gelato tend to be natural and fresh as well as the production.

The gelato served at Munchy Mart is made fresh and locally within an hour drive of UNC. The other main difference between an ice cream parlor and a gelato shop is presentation. You will not see the buckets that have a scoop left way down on the bottom displayed in a gelato shop. Gelato is normally freshly garnished and attractively displayed.


One of my favorite memories of a recent trip to Germany was stopping in Budingen, hearing the old town bell ring at the end of the school day. I watched the children run across the central courtyard to a local gelato shop, lining up with their change in hand. Gelato is great treat for after school or any time. Shops in Europe often face the street, allowing the street traffic to look at the colorful display and purchase a quick treat without even entering the store.


Sorbets differ from gelatos because they contain no dairy. They are basically a mixture of fruit, water, and sugar. They are a dense and intensely flavored frozen treat. Sorbets are about half the calories of ice cream and contain zero fat due to there being no dairy. Adding milk or sometimes egg whites to a sorbet would put it in the category of a sherbet. Italian Ice and granitas are not the same as sorbets. These two have a larger ice crystal due to differences in the production process.

Both gelatos and sorbets are great treats, not only during these hot summer months, but also during the entire year. Make sure to stop by Munchy Mart and try out all the new flavors (listed below).

  • Gelato Flavors
    • Pistachio
    • Vanilla Bean
    • Dark Cherry Chocolate
    • "il Presidente" Chocolate
    • Caramello
    • Cappuccino
    • Spomoni
  • Sorbet Flavors
    • Lemon
    • Mango
    • Raspberry
    • Strawberry

Gelato and sorbet prices at Munchy Mart vary from $2.79 to $4.59, depending if you want your treat in a cup or a cone -- and if you want a single, double, or triple scoop!.


Chef EssigThere are many new and exciting things happening in Dining Services this year, and I certainly hope you will take advantage of what we have to offer. Dining Services is here for you because "We Feed The Bears" and we are very proud of it! GO BEARS!

Don’t forget to look at the weekly menus often to find out what other fabulous menu items await you this week! You can also call the FoodLine (970.351.FOOD) for daily menus. Not signed up for the Faculty/Staff Payroll Deduction program yet? Learn more about the program here.

Happy Dining!
Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA
(Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator)


Chef Essig writes most articles based on his own life experience and culinary education. The following references were used for this piece:

  • PreGel America-Proffesional Training Program
  • Quinzio, Jeri. Of sugar and snow : a history of ice cream making. Berkeley, University of California Press, c2009.