In Singapore, there are no lack of different varieties of ice cream to be found. Be it upmarket brand-names like Hagen Das and Movenpick or more affordable labels like King’s and Wall’s Ice Cream, we the locals are rather spoiled for choices here in Singapore.
I remember when I was a kid, I’d eagerly wait for the ringing of bells in the evenings. It was the sound that marked the arrival of my favourite mobile ice cream seller, who usually made his rounds at the ground floor of my flat once every few days.
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.
They provide a wide range of flavours such as durian, chocolate chips, peppermint, vanilla, coconut, etc, accompanied with biscuit wafers or bread. At only S$1 per flavour, it’s a treat for many especially in a hot afternoon.
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.
The mobile ice-cream vendors have the advantage to move their business according to human traffic, so nowadays you will be able find them in crowded places such as Raffles Place or Orchard Road.
On the streets of Singapore, mobile ice cream sellers will dig boxes of ice cream out of their portable carts and use a Chinese butcher knife to slice right through it, cardboard and everything. It's a bit like cutting into a big melon or slab of meat, but with ice cream instead. From there, they remove the cardboard and ask you if you want it wrapped in a slice of bread (multicolored, I might add), or wafers, which is my preference. Pay S$1, it goes into a sheet of plastic for easy carrying and you're off!
The ice cream seller also serve ice cream in cones and cups, but then he has to dig into this mysterious central vat full of mixed flavors to get you a scoop. Given what he does with the box slicing, I seriously wonder where he gets these flavors to mix into one big vat in the center.
Most carts usually have chocolate, red bean, durian, chocolate chip, ripple, blueberry, mango, sweet corn, chocolate mint chip and ripple flavors.
The ice cream uncles belong to an evergreen standing institution of the street eating culture in Singapore. From the familiar ringing bells outside your primary school gates to the warm weather-beaten smiles of the ice cream uncle, you soon find yourself forking out an affordable dollar for a generous slab of ice cream sandwiched between two slices of bread. Please do not be deterred by the rather rugged looking appearance of both the mobile stalls and the ice cream seller. They are usually friendly to their local customers and even to foreigners who might not be familiar with the local procedures of ordering.
So if you are in Singapore and happen to 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 for most of us. :-)