I Scream for Ice Cream

The sun is out and Londoners are going wild. T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops and shades; all of a sudden the population are convinced that early April is it in fact the height of summer. Workers are flocking to the local park, or any form of open space on their lunch breaks to make the most of the sunshine and the happy vibes it seems to instil in us all.

Photo by Jon Åslund

Sunshine appears to be directionally proportional to ice cream consumption. Alongside descending on the parks and wearing as little as can be justifiably possible for the time of year, the city is going wild for ice cream. Even here at DMC HQ we had an afternoon indulging on cornettos, calipos and the occasional Magnum (for those who take ice cream consumption seriously!)

Apart from the fact ice cream is cold, and therefore perceived to be the perfect antidote on a hot day and it’s sweet, often with a chocolate flake stuck in the top, how has it become such a popular treat?

Photo by Gudlyf

Ice cream started off as eating ice with fruit. Legend has it that it began in the Persian Empire where people would pour grape juice over snow and eat it as a dessert. Reports emanating from Rome as early as AD 37 indicate that Emperor Nero ordered snow to be collected and covered with fruit and nut toppings. There are further reports from China dating back to AD 618 which are linked to a poem by Yang Wanli entitled ‘Ode to the ice cheese’. It progressed through Europe as a delicacy: flavoured ices, sherberts and fruit being served in the fashionable Italian and French royal courts.

Photo by hashmil

After ice cream crossed the Atlantic to the shores of the USA, the first ‘Ice Cream Parlour’ opened in New York City in 1776. Post 1832 modern manufacturing methods saw rapid changes in the production of ice cream including the ice cream sundae, cones and desserts such as the banana split.. During the American Prohibition, carbonated drinks and ice cream parlours took over from outlawed establishments serving alcohol. The 20th century saw the most remarkable changes with ice cream both in the UK and across the pond. Technological advances and the development of freezers saw the emergence of ‘soft ice’ and mobile ice cream vans for distribution at the school gate or entrances to public parks.

Photo by david.nikonvscanon

Ice Cream has become big business around the world. Argentina is home to Helado which is similar to Italian gelato. Their most popular flavour is dulce de leche which has since been adopted into a popular flavour by mega ice cream brand Hagen Daaz. In Italy, ice cream is served up in a small dish known as a penny lick or in a cone wrapped in waxed paper. One of the most famous Italian ice cream exports must be the Neopolitan – chocolate, strawberry and vanilla trio which originated in Naples. In England, the first recorded serving of ice cream was to King Charles II in 1672 and at this time was only associated with the elite. Walls were the first to sell ice cream from street bicycles in 1923. Walls are still the leading ice cream supplier in the UK – we have them to thank for the Cornettos, Vienetta and Magnums we now enjoy in the parks as soon as the sun comes out.

Top image by James Bowe