Frozen in time
Ice cream has been around for centuries and products now include even human milk.
New Zealanders lead the world in ice-cream consumption, licking our way through 23kg per person per year, but the origins of the cold stuff are murky. According to Mark Kurlansky, the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907) had ice cream or an ice cream-like frozen dessert. One story has it that Marco Polo brought an ice cream recipe from China to Italy.
The Italians, it is said, later introduced it to Paris – in 1686, Sicilian chef Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli started a restaurant called Café Procope, still Paris’ oldest restaurant and the first to sell ice cream to the general public.
In London and New York, Italian immigrant ice-cream vendors came to be known as hokey pokey men, a mispronunciation, it is thought, of a phrase from an Italian song they sang.
New Zealand has long prided itself on its loyalty to hokey pokey ice cream, but 2016 statistics from Tip Top put vanilla in No 1 popularity spot, followed by boysenberry, then chocolate. Top prize for large manufacturers in this year’s
Ice Cream Awards went to Tip Top’s Boysenberry Ripple. The best boutique manufacturer title was awarded to Ginelli’s, for its Black Sesame ice cream.
But neither flavour got the attention given to London company The Licktators when, in 2011, it put human breastmilk ice cream on the market, building on the disturbing growth in online sales of human breastmilk to athletes and bodybuilders. Four years later, it partnered with breastfeeding advocate Victoria Hailey to launch a new “Baby Gaga” flavour (pictured, left) to commemorate the birth of Princess Charlotte. The ice cream is made from donated, screened human breast milk blended with Madagascan vanilla.
“If you think about, it is demoting women to livestock,” Kurlansky says.
Ice cream was a summer’s day ritual for children growing up in the 1960s.