Ice Cream Vendors

A taste of Singaporean’s nostalgia

22 May, 2010 by

In Singapore, there are no lack of different varieties of ice cream to be found. Be it prestigious brands like Hagen Das and Movenpick or more affordable labels like King’s and Wall’s Ice Cream, we are rather spoiled for choice here in Singapore. In this article I will introduce the very localized ice cream vendors that prepare ice cream in their own unique Asian way.

The ice cream vendors in Singapore, operate via bike or motorcycles strapped to a huge container, holding various ice cream. The makeshift contraption gives them added mobility and the ice cream vendors here are always constantly on the movie to find better spots to sell their ice cream. The vendors are able to sell their products really cheaply considering that they use only medium and low quality ice cream.

A brief history about these vendors is that in the past these ice cream vendors could be easily found in neighborhood areas. Each day when the school bell sounded, you’d emerge to find the vendors parked outside of the school gates. As a kid, you were thrilled to purchase a nice soothing cup of ice cream before heading home.

Times have changed however and most of these vendors now cater to the foreign crowd. As a result, they are not most often spotted around tourist attractions and in places like Orchard Road.

As I'm walking around Boat Quay, I spotted this ice cream vendor along the pavement. One of the signature features of the mobile vendors are their huge umbrellas.

Given the hot weather, I decided to stop and get myself something to counter the heat. If you have no idea how the ordering works, menus conveniently stuck on the side will have a list of the various flavors to choose from.

Here’s a list of some of the common flavors that this shop offered:

Chocolate Chip
Peppermint Chocolate Chip
Red Bean
Sweet Corn
Mocha Chip
Ripple (Vanilla and Raspberry)

Once you have decided on which flavor you want, the Uncle will take out a block of ice cream and start cutting.

Uncle at work, fetching the wafers to stick on your ice cream.

The end product, ice cream with wafers. I chose a durian flavor for this one.

Another shot. Basically its just a block of ice cream cut into an acceptable size sandwiched between 2 wafers. A plastic wrapper is provided to prevent dripping.

The Ice Cream Wafer is covered, next I will show you the 2 other products sold by the typical ice cream vendor. The Ice Cream Cup and the Ice Cream Bread.

The ice cream that is served in the a cup is rather different from those served with in wafer. The vendors will have another huge tub of ice cream that is specially catered for the cup version, which will come in flavors of chocolate, corn and attap seed. You could request for a single flavor amongst the 3 given, but usually all 3 are mixed messily within the metal container. So regardless of your request, you’d still end up with a mix of all 3 flavors.

See that huge cylindrical container in the middle? That is where the Uncle houses the mixed ice cream specially set aside for the ice cream cups and ice cream bread.

My ice-cream-in-a-cup.

Call me mad, but after the 2 ice creams above I decided to order the last version available too. I believe that ice cream sandwiched between slices of bread is a rather Asian way of enjoying ice cream. It is not commonly eaten this way in Western countries and will be an interesting experience for some. Moreover, the bread that ice cream vendors use are specially colored breads that will light up one’s interest in trying them out.

Ice Cream Bread. You can see clearly here that the container bound ice cream is rather messily mixed.

Another shot.

Do not be deterred by the rather rugged looking appearance of both the stalls and the ice cream seller. They are usually rather friendly and forgiving to foreigners, who might not be familiar with the local procedures of ordering.

If you are in Singapore and pass by one of these stalls, do take this opportunity to try out the affordable and sweet tasting ice cream that Singaporeans have adored in their youth. It is a rather nostalgic taste.

Addicted to film, Yan shoots with a black Nikon Fm3a. For special occasions, Yan shoots with a Mamiya Sekor TLR.