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At last! Scientists solve the sticky issue of melting ice cream

It’s a sticky issue that’s plagued ice cream eaters ever since the first cones appeared some 200 years ago, but British scientists appear to have it licked.

The hotter the day, the more you want to get yourself a refreshing ice cream, but the scorching weather also means that within seconds your tasty snack will be trickling down the cone onto your hands, creating an undignified mess that may not be fully sorted out till you get home.

Clearly with their priorities in the right order, scientists in Scotland decided to set about tackling the problem in a bid to ease the stress of those who want to enjoy their ice cream in a relaxed fashion rather than have to wolf it down just to stay clean.

The researchers, based at the universities of Dundee and Edinburgh, said this week they’ve discovered a naturally occurring protein that helps the ice cream retain its stability for longer – yes, they have indeed invented slow-melting ice cream. The team behind the breakthrough said the protein “binds together the air, fat and water in ice cream, creating a super-smooth consistency.”

Related: The perfect ice cream scoop, designed by an aerospace engineer

Besides helping to keep the dessert frozen for longer, it can also “prevent gritty ice crystals from forming, ensuring a fine, smooth texture like those of luxury ice creams.”

More significantly, it could also enable some products to be made using reduced amounts of saturated fat.

The scientists behind the discovery said the ingredient offers “significant advantages” for ice cream makers, too, as it can be produced from sustainable raw materials and reduces the necessity to deep freeze the final product.

“The supply chain would also be eased by a reduced need to keep the product very cold throughout delivery and merchandising,” the scientists said.

The slow-melting ice cream could be available in around three years, meaning you’ll then be able to eat the whole thing instead of watching helplessly as much of it melts away, causing an annoying mess in the process.