It was in the 1980’s when Paal Ice (Milk Ice) in a stick that sold for just 10 Paise was a craze among the kids. There was no Kwality or Arun icecream then, it was just the local “State Ice” and “Ega Ice”. The ice cream person walks down the street in a push cart and just yells “Cup ice, paal ice”. An Ice cream for just 10 Paise with great taste was a bargain and it fit our pockets and mouth.
Muttai Ice was another popular ice cream then. It was shaped like an Egg and served in a small plastic bag. You eat it by slurping through it. This ice cream was so tasty you would not leave even a drop to be wasted. It costed 50 Paise though and you had to give away some of your hard earned piggy bank savings for this. It was worth it and the best part is to watch it being taken out. The ice cream vendor removes the ice cream from an egg shaped container and it was a delight to watch.
But great things come to an end, great things get replaced. So the plain white tasty Paal ice cream that treated us for so long was replaced by other flavours – Grape, Mango, Double Mango, Rose etc. Variety came in and people preferred the Variety, still in a stick though. Paal Ice was slowly forgotten. Paal Ice was termed cheap and people were able to afford to buy flavours. Paal Ice died a silent death and was never to be seen by after that. Muttai Ice lived for a while longer before it gave up its last breath too. I do not know if they are available now, they are probably not.
If I went to the theatres for a Movie, I would never miss out for the interval snack – Cone Ice cream. Cone Ice (as it is called) were served in different flavours in different theatres, but only one flavour is available at any time (probably even now). We used to compare and contrast which theatre had the best ice cream. Was it Amirtham or Abirami? Was it Sundaram or Sugapriya? Even if we head to watch movie in a low grade theatre like Dinamani we never used to miss out on a Cone Ice cream.
Fancier variants (not just flavours) of Ice creams emerged. The very first fancy Ice Cream I had was Casatta. I love that till date, an ice cream with a rainbow of 7 flavours with nuts in the end. It was like having all kinds of ice cream at once. It costed a whopping 7 Rupees (1 Rupee per flavour I guess, nuts were free) for a slice in those days and were bought by parents on special occasions. These were the days when Arun, Kwality and Dollops ice cream brands emerged. We used to hail Arun as the top brand, but we also loved Kwality as they made the best “Ball Ice cream”.
A Ball Ice cream is just that, a ball with a lid. You open the lid and voila you find the ice cream. When you finish up your Ball ice cream, you can wash it and use it to play cricket. It was fun and we bought the ice cream just for that, to have a ball! Kwality had the strongest of the balls (no pun intended). It bounced well in the streets and it was a challenge to play with that.
So many fancy variants followed that we just couldn’t keep count – Faluda, Sundae etc. Simplicity with ice creams were lost. If you go to an ice cream shop it is always a confusion, Which one to choose. There are tons of varieties available in multiple sizes and shapes it is easier to do Saree shopping with your wife or Computer shopping with your Husband. There is also a risk involved while choosing a new variety. What if it is not good? What if it is simply awful?
One of my cousin, once ordered a variety called “Banana Split”. What came was both a surprise and non-surprise. Three scoops of Ice creams – Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry sandwiched between a split banana. It was a WTF moment. It was a surprise that it literally turned out to be a split Banana yet it was a non-surprise as in what else did we expect in a Banana Split?
Coming back to ice cream shopping, Here is how we have to have a dialogue with the Ice cream seller in US of A:
me: Hi, I would like a Chocolate ice cream please?
seller: 1 Scoop or 2 scoops?
me: 1 Scoop will do.
Seller: Do you want a Cup or Cone?
me: er….. Cone!
Seller: Regular Cone or Waffle Cone?
(me going, daaiii eva oruva bommaiya eringada, endha kadaiya odaingada, endha customera vettungada and some more Tamil steaming going on in my conscious and grinding my teeth…)
me: Regular Cone.
Before she went Cash or Credit, I just whip out my Visa, pay and go on my way.
Everything is so complicated now. Choice isn’t simple and variety kills simplicity. You moment of zen with the only available vanilla ice cream is long gone. Today, it is a constant battle of the brains to choose the right ice cream. But sanity lives in some places still.
Recently I visited a local petting zoo and I was greeted with a simple vanilla cup ice cream for $1 that tasted almost as good as the original Paal Ice cream. Life came full circle. One dollar for an ice cream. The same would have costed me $2.50 in a mall. But there was a reason behind the cost of that $1 Ice cream.
The raw material for the ice cream Mrs. Cow was standing right there with the fancy Milking machine by its side (No, not Ramarajan). It was a mock Dairy farm with 1 Cow and they were simply making use of the economics to “Milk the Cow” right there for some dairy fun. They were selling a lot of great dairy products – Ice Creams, Milk, Chocolate Milk, yet people were seen buying Chips and Coca Cola. Irony exists everywhere.