Asia’s Sweet Success: The History of Ice Cream in Asia


by Selina Tan

The concept of a frozen dessert is one that goes back thousands of years. By pouring a mixture of salt and ice over containers of liquid syrup, the Chinese were creating a rudimentary form of ice cream as long ago as 2000 BC. The resulting frozen product was served as a dessert to China’s elite.

[icon_timeline timeline_line_style=”solid” timeline_line_color=”#000000″][icon_timeline_sep time_sep_title=”Ice Cream in Asia: How It All Began” seperator_title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;”][icon_timeline_item time_title=”2000 BC” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd8500″]Frozen syrup is
created in China
using snow and
salt as freezing
agents.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”500 BC” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd0000″]The Persian Empire
is introduced to
frozen desserts via
trade with China.
The word “sorbet”
comes from the
Arabic šariba, which
means, “to drink”.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”400 BC” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd8500″]The Arabs begin
using milk and
sugar as major
ingredients in ice
cream. They also
invent a dessert
made with rose
water and vermicelli
called faludeh.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”200 BC” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd0000″]The Chinese create
another variation
of ice cream, with
milk, overcooked
rice and spices,
packed in snow
to freeze.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”8TH CENTURY” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd8500″]Sorbet is
introduced to Italy
when the Arabs
conquer the island
of Sicily, giving
rise to the famous,
semi-frozen Italian
dessert granita.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”10TH CENTURY” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd0000″]From being a luxury
food for the elite,
ice cream becomes
widespread among
many major Arab
cities, including
Baghdad, Damascus
and Cairo.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”16TH CENTURY” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd8500″]In Italy, sorbet is
enriched with cream
and eggs to create
gelato.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”20TH CENTURY” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” desc_font_color=”#000000″ title_font_color=”#dd0000″]Ernest A. Hamwi, a
Syrian immigrant,
is credited with
the invention of
the ice-cream cone
– rolled from one
of his waffles.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”1981″ title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd8500″]An early form
of the Japanese
mochi ice cream is
produced by the
Lotte company;
it’s made using
rice starch and
rice milk.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”1993″ title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd0000″]Frances Hashimoto,
former president of
Mikawaya, creates
mochi ice cream by
taking small orbs
of ice cream and
wrapping them in
mochi rice cake.[/icon_timeline_item][icon_timeline_item time_title=”21ST CENTURY” title_font_style=”font-weight:bold;” title_font_color=”#dd8500″]Asian soft-serve
ice cream (known
as “soft cream” in
Japan) is booming
in popularity, with
Korean brands such
as Honey Crème
expanding across
the region.[/icon_timeline_item][/icon_timeline]

Check out the rest of this article in Asian Geographic No.109 Issue 1/2015 here or download a digital copy here


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here