Jun 27, 2008

Ice Cream Truck - Good Humor Or Mr Whippy

"Slow children crossing" or "Caution children". These are very important phrases that appear on many an ice cream truck stretching from the USA to as far as Australia. Usually on the back of the truck, the words are there to alert drivers to the fact that children love ice cream and often so much so that they'll forget to look out for traffic once they've got an ice cream cone in their hands.

It varies from country to country what the warning actually says - for example, in the UK I've seen: "Drivers remember, children forget" which is really memorable.

Whatever the words, it's crucial for drivers to remember that they were once children and, if they think back, most will probably recall excitement at the idea of the ice cream truck coming down the street. We should seek to preserve that innocent excitement - ice cream is really great fun after all.

The sound of the ice cream truck's unique musical jingle, followed by the sight of the colorful truck coming down the street are strong memories for me as a child. Sometimes the ice cream truck would be different (maybe the other broke down or a different ice cream vendor took over the route), but it didn't matter - the truck was always a colorful vehicle and the ice cream always tasted great!

In the USA, the old 'Good Humor' ice cream trucks of the 1960's became part of American popular culture. In the UK the equivalent was 'Mr Whippy' (as seen in the Beatles movie 'Help'). British style ice cream trucks are also popular in other countries, especially where there is a tradition of a strong ex-patriate community. Hong Kong is a good example - on Hong Kong island there's often one parked near the Star Ferry terminal. Out in the Far East, some countries opt for a different motorized way of selling ice cream - in Thailand for example, you'll see ice cream sold from a specially modified motorcyle that has a special sidecar 'freezer'.

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Jun 15, 2008

Country Estate Strawberries & Late Night Ice Cream

Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy strawberries and ice cream - together or separately - and I have two nice little 'country' stories on these topics I'd like to share with you.

Strawberries At An Irish Ancestral Home
Ballywalter Park (N. Ireland) is the ancestral home of the Mulholland family (Lord Dunleath). Beautiful interiors and an intriguing history draw many visitors (by appointment only) but the estate offers another strong attraction, especially in the summer months - strawberries. Top restaurants and supermarket chains take delivery of a large proportion of the estate's strawberries but from mid/late June to early August there is the opportunity to 'pick your own strawberries'. Strawberries are so important to Ballywalter Park that the current owners have compiled "The Ballywalter Park Strawberry Cook Book". At present, the book is only available from the estate's 'pick your own shop' but if it comes available online I will let you know. Sounds mouth watering!

Late Night Ice Cream & A Grand Party In The Country
Recently a friend of mine was invited to a "very grand" marquee party in Cumbria close to the Scottish Border. It was a combined celebration of birthdays - 19th, 21st and a 50th - so the age group of the "party goers" was quite broad. For the party's theme the hosts chose "Snow and Ice". Bearing in mind this was an early summer event, such a theme was a bold idea. However, the hosts did their homework well and delivered an apparently fabulous party enjoyed by all. The marquee resembled a winter garden and there were even statues (human ones) posing as if in a winter setting. To cap it all - and this is what really appealed to me - an ice cream truck appeared around midnight serving ice cream cones for all the guests! As my friend said "I guess no-one is ever too young or too old for ice cream".

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Jun 14, 2008

Ice Cream On A Sunny Dutch Beach 1934

You may well wonder what prompted me to give this article such a title .... what would make me want to write about ice cream back in 1934 and on a Dutch beach of all places?

Well, I recently stumbled across a photograph on the web which stopped me in my tracks. It's a sepia toned photograph taken on the beach in Zandvoort (Netherlands) with four people in the picture all dressed for fun on the beach. There's a woman smiling and sitting on one of those wonderful big wicker chairs that you rarely see these days with another woman, obviously a mother, also smiling and sitting on the sand alongside her two young daughters. The girls are not looking at the camera though - they're busy concentrating on eating. The youngest girl in the middle appears to finishing off an ice cream cone.

It's a happy, almost idyllic photograph taken at a time when the world knew peace, at least for a while .... but this photograph holds a poignancy I've rarely experienced in an image. The young girl with the ice cream cone in one hand and the other hand on her mother's shoulder is none other than Anne Frank, just 5 years old. Beside her sits her elder sister Margot and the bespectacled lady in the wicker chair is Mrs. Schneider who worked for her father Otto Frank. They are on a day trip from Amsterdam. It is a picture of innocence and genuine happiness.

Little did the Frank family know the horrors that lay ahead for them and countless others and of course 5 year old Anne could not possibly have imagined that one day she would write the most well-known diary ever published. It is a sobering picture and one that should serve to remind us all that we should take pleasure in every moment and treasure all the simple pleasures of life - even enjoying an ice cream cone on a beach. View the photograph on this page about day trips from Zandvoort.

This week saw Anne Frank Day - Anne would have been 79 on Thursday (12 June). I was privileged some years ago to visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam and it is something I'll never forget. If you ever get the chance to go you should do so.

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Jun 6, 2008

Ice Cream & Political Passion

My passion for ice cream is strong ... possibly even strong enough to be likened to the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's passion for politics! There, I hasten to add, our similarities end - except for one thing that I discovered only a few days ago.

I was reading Wikipedia's ice cream page and learned to my surprise that Margaret Thatcher had been involved in ice cream making. She was part of a British research team in the 1950's who developed a way of increasing the air content in ice cream for commercial manufacturers. The impact of this was significant in 3 ways:
  • ice cream manufacturers were able to produce the same amount of ice cream but using less ingredients, thereby reducing their production costs.
  • the increased air content made for a softer ice cream which the ice cream eating public took to straight away and began demanding more of.
  • the demand for soft ice cream led to the development of the soft ice cream maker where a single cone at a time can be filled on demand.

    So were it not for the efforts of the 1950's research time and the lady who was to become the first female Prime Minister of Britain, we might never have seen soft serve ice cream chains such as Carvel and many others.

    Before I read about The Baroness Thatcher's ice cream research work I was already aware that the percentage of air in ice cream made by commercial ice cream producers was a serious and indeed a legal issue. I have a section on ice cream ingredients and within that a page about air in ice cream if you would like to read more.

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Jun 2, 2008

Ice Cream Knowledge Earns $50,000

A favorite TV quiz show in my family is "Eggheads" where a team of "Quiz Experts" are challenged each show by a team from the general public. It's not often that the challengers win and indeed the prize money ($2000 per show) rolls over to the next show if they don't. So by the time a team finally beats the "Eggheads" the prize money is usually quite high.

On a recent show we were watching, the challengers actually won - and what's more the key question they answered correctly was about ice cream! Here it is ....

Question: What costs $1,000 as a 'house special' at Serendipity 3 in New York?

Answer: A Chocolate Sundae

The challengers not only had the pride of knowing they'd beaten the experts but they won $50,000 in the process. How's that for a pay-off to liking ice cream!

The real, detailed answer to the question of course is 'Golden Opulence Sundae' which I've previously written about on Blog Of Ice Cream. (Follow the link to view)

If you're interested in ice cream sundaes, you'll find pictures on my website of ones I made at home including:

strawberry ice cream sundae

chocolate ice cream sundae

There are more on the main page of ice cream sundae pictures.

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