Soft serve

Yesterday’s Zippy:

In ZippyPopLand, redemption can be found in soft serve. (In particular, New England Soft Serve, which would appear to be the franchise in Colchester CT, though I haven’t been able to find images of the place.)

The Wikipedia entry on soft serve begins by treating the stuff as a kind of ice cream, which is the way ordinary people think of it:

Soft serve is a type of ice cream that is softer than regular ice cream. Soft serve ice cream has been sold commercially since the late 1930s.

History: Over Memorial Day weekend of 1934, Tom Carvel, the founder of the Carvel brand and franchise, suffered a flat tire in his ice cream truck in Hartsdale, New York. He pulled into a parking lot and began selling his melting ice cream to vacationers driving by. Within two days he had sold his entire supply of ice cream and concluded that both a fixed location and soft (as opposed to hard) frozen desserts were potentially good business ideas. In 1936, Carvel opened his first store on the original broken down truck site and developed a secret soft serve ice cream formula as well as patented super low temperature ice cream machines.

Dairy Queen also claims to have invented soft serve. In 1938, near Moline, Illinois, J.F. McCullough and his son, Alex, developed their soft serve formula. Their first sales experiment was August 4, 1938, in Kankakee, Illinois at the store of their friend, Herb Noble. They sold 1,600 servings in two hours.

(When I was a child, back in the ’40s, soft serve — whoever invented the stuff, though I came to it through Carvel — was still seen as a new and exciting thing.)

The point is that in ordinary English, ice cream covers a variety of frozen confections — but in the United States, the label is regulated, so that, technically, soft serve is not ice cream.

Soft serve differs from (prototypical) ice cream in three ways: it is lower in milk fat; it is produced at a substantially lower temperature; and it (usually) contains significant amounts of air, introduced at the time of freezing. And it’s now become a regular feature of the American pop-food landscape.


5 Responses to “Soft serve”

  1. Chris Says:

    In actuality, a former British politician had a lot to do with soft-serve ice cream. Margaret Thatcher, now Baroness Thatcher of East Finchley, in her first incarnation as a food chemist, invented a process of pumping enough air into soft-serve ice cream so that it could be dispensed from a machine.

    There’ll Always Be an England!

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      In my posting I quoted only stuff on origins — not on the further development, refinement, or spread of soft serve. In these latter areas, a great many people from many places have made contributions, great or small.

  2. Dave Says:

    Hey there. I happen to own “New England Soft Serve’ which is operated from Colchester Connecticut. Your cartoon drawing is very good (although the trailer was white and red, not white and blue) but your detail perfect, nonetheless.

  3. Being someone else | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] According to my records, Zippy and soft serve came together last in December, when I wrote, here: […]

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