Ikea soft serve ice cream
The IKEA soft serve ice cream is priced at Dh1 Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

What you need to know:

  • Our twentieth pick of the month is the soft serve ice cream.
  • Be prepared for our list of 29 ice creams for 29 days.
  • End your fast and enjoy the summer months with these sweet and cold treats.

If you are looking for an ice cream that is simple and budget friendly, we give you our 20th pick of the month – the classic soft serve.

#20 Classic soft serve

How is it made?

Soft serve is regular ice cream that has a different making process. It is generally lower in milk-fat, as compared to normal ice cream. Regular ice cream is typically served at –12 degrees Celcius, while soft-serve ice cream is served at –6 degrees Celcius. The amount of air used to make the finishing product can alter the taste of the ice cream. A product with a higher air content tastes creamier, lighter and appears whiter. More air in the product leaves less room for dairy fat.

These days, the soft serve comes in a variety of flavours and combinations. 

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There are many stories about the history of the invention of soft serve ice cream. According to Daniel Fromson of US newspaper, the New Yorker, the soft-serve industry arose in the United States and not in Britain, amidst stories stating that Margaret Thatcher helped invent the soft serve before her career in politics.

Fromson sites Marian Burro, a columnist for the US newspaper The New York Times, who said: “Either J. F. McCullough or Tom Carvel deserves credit as the first soft-serve maker. Mr. McCullough made soft serve in 1938 in Moline.

“Carvel appears to have stumbled on soft serve …when his truck carrying ice cream broke down in Hartsdale, New York, he sold it from the truck over two days as it softened.”

In 1936, Carvel brand and franchise opened its first store on the original broken down truck site. Carvel was the first retail ice cream franchise in America.

As for Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was a research chemist before becoming a politician. She received a degree in chemistry from the University of Oxford in 1947. She briefly worked as a chemist for a food manufacturing company called J. Lyons and Co. Her contribution to the soft serve is considered a “myth” according to the article by the New Yorker, however, some publications argue otherwise.

Readers discuss the soft serve ice cream…

Dubai resident Jisen Raj considers the soft serve ice cream simple and timeless.

The trainee wealth manager said: “I prefer the classic vanilla softie because there is just something special about it.

“I think it is the perfect balance. The sweet cream with the soft cone (sometimes waffle) is a simple but complete combination.”

American national Yamaan Farhat, however, is not too impressed with the soft serve.

The 26-year-old English Teacher said: “I need more flavours than just vanilla or chocolate. It is too plain. I like ice creams to be creamier and dense in texture, not light and smooth like a soft serve.”

Where to get it from?

While many big fast food restaurant chains have the soft serve in their dessert menu, small road-side cafeterias also serve this simple dessert.

Are the ones sold at cafeterias popular? We spoke to a few residents and they said that they were unaware that in addition to chai and other snacks, some cafeterias also served ice cream.

Dubai resident Anjana Weerawansha was seen buying a soft serve ice cream outside a restaurant when he was interviewed.

ice cream
The classic softie is a popular favourite Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

The 35-year-old sales manager said: “I bought the ice cream because it was close by. My wife and I live nearby and so we stop to buy ice cream form this café in Deira sometimes.”

In Deira, the Iranian Sweets shop serves the classic vanilla softie, but the 40-year-old shop’s best seller is their vanilla and saffron mixed soft serve that is priced at Dh2. Customers flock to the store to have the refreshing ice cream that is served in a long cone.

Iranian ice cream
Saffron and vanilla soft serve is very popular Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

Another place to get the softie is the Baisan restaurant that serves Filipino cuisine. They price their vanilla soft serve at Dh1.


Price: Dh1 – Dh3
Availability: The soft serve is found in almost all fast food burger joints like Burger Kind, Mc Donalds, KFC and more. Even ice cream shops like Sweet Salvation and SALT use the soft serve to create their own variations and flavours of the ice cream. The IKEA softie (Dh1) is also quite popular.

Are you a fan of the soft serve? Do you prefer having it from local cafeterias and small shops? Tell us your experience at readers@gulfnews.com.