How much ice cream you eat may depend on the tool you use to get it from container to bowl or cone.

Is a scoop a useful portion-control device?Turns out most scoops are exactly that because the business ends tend to be fairly modest in size. Scoops are designed small partly because a large one would be difficult to wrestle through a hard-frozen dessert.

So how much is a typical scoop?

Our tests showed that scoops contain less than the ½ cup recommended as a serving size. How much you get depends in part on how firm the ice cream is. Keep in mind that light ice cream, which tends to be airy, delivers less fat in ½ cup than full-fat ice cream.

Hard-Frozen Ice CreamAverage-size single scoop: 0.37 cups (about 1/3 cup)

Slightly Softened Ice CreamAverage-size single scoop: 0.44 cups (a scant ½ cup)What if I just fetch a big spoon?

Expect to eat a bigger portion. Testers tended to serve 50% more than the recommended ½ cup when handed a large spoon.

How much fits in a cone?

It depends on the cone, natch—and the temptation to load it up. We gave testers two types of cones and asked them to serve themselves.

Classic Cake ConeMost were happy with 1 scoop; the ice cream perched on top of the cone.

Waffle ConeThe first scoop fell down so far inside it practically vanished, so most testers added a second.