THE HISTORY OF GELATO

Our range of gelato flavours here at IGLU Desserts are some of our most popular sweet treat choices, it is perfect to enjoy on its own or as a delicious addition to any of our other desserts.


However, we wanted to look at the history of this frozen delight and to see who created this fan favourite and how it has changed over the years.

The beginning of frozen desserts starts way back in 3000 B.C, this was when Asian cultures discovered mixing crushed ice and flavourings. By 2500 B.C Egyptian Pharaoh’s would treat their guests to cups of ice and fruit juice. Even the Roman’s were a fan of the cold dessert, choosing to enjoy the volcanic ice by covering it in honey.

It wasn’t until the explorer Marco Polo ventured through Asia that a new way of creating an iced dessert was discovered. Polo returned to Italy with many recipes that he had learnt during his travels, however the one from China that used milk as a primary ingredient was the one that would transform this iced dessert into something more familiar. From this exploration began the kick start of the Italian ice cream journey. Fast forward slightly to the Italian Renaissance where the Medici family held a contest in Florence to find the greatest frozen dessert. A humble man, named Ruggeri, originally a chicken farmer, entered the contest with his fresh fruit juice and ice dessert that is similar to today’s ‘sorbet’, and became the winner of the coveted award. Caterina de Medici was so impressed with Ruggeri’s culinary skills that she took him with her to France to create iced desserts for her wedding to the future King of France.

By the late 1500’s the Medici family had hired the famous artist Bernardo Buontalenti to create a beautiful feast for the visiting King of Spain; using his culinary skills Buontalenti presented the King of Spain with a delicious creamy frozen dessert flavoured with bergamot, lemon, orange, and honey. This dessert is said to be the first gelato and therefore named Buontalenti as the inventor of this sweet treat.



However, it was Sicilian fisherman Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, who introduced the dessert and enhanced its fame around Europe. Procopio owned his own café in France and used his expertise of flavours and desserts to create his success. He also invented the first ice cream machine, enabling him to be able to produce gelato on a much larger scale.

It isn’t until the 1700’s that gelato reaches the U.S when it is brought to New York City by Giovanni Basiolo. At this time there were two types of gelatos being created around the world, one made by mixing water and fruits (Sorbetto) and another by mixing milk with sweet ingredients such as cinnamon, chocolate or coffee. In 1846 the hand-crank freezer was invented in the U.S, changing how their production of iced desserts would work. The machine worked by constantly turning the product and maintaining the cool temperature, the consistent mixing meant the product became much creamier, this is where the creation of ice-cream began as it contained more air and was less dense than gelato.


Gelato became known under the name ‘Italian Ice Cream’ and is often seen as more luxury version of the dessert. By the late 1900’s gelato rose back up in popularity and is used in many restaurants, cafes and shops around the world.


At IGLU Desserts we love having a huge range of different flavours of gelato for you to choose from, whether you prefer something classic like mint choc chip, or maybe abit of luxury like our Ferrero Rocher flavour, there is something for everyone.


Check out our menu and plan what you will be ordering for your next evening in together.


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