Early settlers made their own ice cream using hand-churns and ice from the mountains. By 1871 Aucklanders could buy it from a Queen Street shop for threepence a glass ($1.80 in 2019 terms). Later, small companies, often set up by Italian immigrants, sold it from street barrows. Production grew from 4 to 10 million litres per year during the 1940s, due to the demands of US servicemen stationed in the country, and the growing availability of refrigerators and commercial deep freezers.
New Zealand favourite
Ice cream has to contain at least 10% milk fat to be labelled ‘ice cream’. New Zealanders are among the world’s biggest consumers, eating an average of 22 litres each per year. The world’s favourite flavour is vanilla, and so is New Zealand’s, but it uniquely has hokey pokey (vanilla ice cream with added honeycomb toffee chunks) in second place, with chocolate and strawberry following.
The Tip Top ice-cream company was formed in 1935. The owners opened their first milk bar in Wellington the following year, selling only ice cream and milkshakes. In the early 2000s Tip Top made 50 million litres of ice cream per year for the domestic market, at factories in Auckland and Perth, Australia, and exported to Japan, Australia and the Pacific. It was part of the Fonterra Cooperative Group and employed 350 people in New Zealand.
Bacon and egg ice cream
Boutique ice-cream companies such as Kāpiti and Deep South (based in Invercargill) have developed high-quality products for national and export markets, encouraged by the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards, held annually since 1996. Companies have devised some unusual flavours – peanut butter, lemongrass and ginger, and even bacon and egg.
The increased availability of chest deep-freezers allowed ice creams and ice blocks (frozen, flavoured sugared water) to be sold to the public as snacks on sticks. The Jelly Tip, dreamed up in the 1950s, put the favourite children’s dessert jelly and ice cream on a stick, encased in chocolate. It originally sold for sixpence, and it has remained one of the top 10 novelty ice creams. The Trumpet (a coned ice cream with nuts and chocolate) was launched in 1964. Frujus (fruit-juice iceblocks) joined the burgeoning numbers of flavours available.