Vimto ice cream cake
The Vimto ice cream cake is found at Baskin Robbins Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

What you need to know:

  • Gulf News is going on an ice cream trail this Ramadan.
  • Our 25th pick of the month is Vimto 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.

A flavour often associated with Ramadan is Vimto. The sweet, burgundy coloured syrup is incorporated into many desserts during the month, and it is considered to be a local favourite.

#25 Vimto ice creams and cakes

History

Vimto was invented in Manchester, England in 1908. In 2018, it completed 110 years in the market.

According to the brand’s official website, John Nichols worked as a stockbroker’s clerk and a soap factory manager, before he decided to enter “the world of flavours, herbs and spices”. According to their official website, the combination of fruits, herbs and spices was first known as ‘Vimtonic’. In 1912 the name was registered as a medicine. Later, the name was re-registered as a beverage.

The drink did very well, and soon it was exported to markets around the world.

In 1920, the product came to India. In 1928, the Aujan family, then known as Abdulla Aujan and Brothers, introduced Vimto in the Middle East. In 1978, Vimto was first produced in a factory in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

According to a Gulf News article published in 2018, the company’s marketing manager for Vimto told the newspaper: “Over the years and from one generation to another, Vimto became phenomenally popular in the region, and synonymous with Ramadan, and has become the unique and irreplaceable drink of choice on the iftar table.”

“Vimto is a delicious and refreshing thirst quenching iftar ritual associated with providing a rewarding boost, soothing the body after a day of fasting.”

In 2017, more than 25 million bottles of the cordial or sweet flavoured drink, were sold during Ramadan.

Residents respond

Vimto is traditionally a drink, however, it is now used in many desserts. While the drink continues to be a part of Middle Eastern culture, is it still as popular as before? We got mixed reactions. People either like the flavour or dislike it completely.

Abu Dhabi resident Ahmad Ramadan remembers seeing advertisements of Vimto when he was a child. He said: “You literally don’t hear about it or see it at any other time, other than Ramadan. I personally don’t understand why people think the beverage is tasty. I think it’s a tradition more than anything else.”

The 26-year-old engineer said: “I don’t understand the hype. I think it tastes very sweet. The syrup might be more popular in Saudi Arabia.”

He said Vimto is not popular in Egypt, as compared to another drink that is typically consumed during Ramadan – Qamar al-Din, an apricot juice or nectar beverage popular in Arabic cuisine.

Vimto shake at Baskin Robbins Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

“I think it has been a part of the culture in the Gulf countries for decades, that’s why several generations had it. As an expatriate, I saw it around me but was never part of my family’s traditions, in Ramadan or otherwise. Other drinks like the Qamar Al Deen are.”

Some residents called the syrup “too sweet” for their liking. Others said that they were fans, but eating healthy does not allow them to indulge in such drinks.

Indian national Yasra Khoker has always loved Vimto and stocks up on the drink when Ramadan starts.

The 33-year-old food illustrator said: “I love Vimto because it’s ‘super sweet’, as most would say. Also, apart from the flavour, I guess it’s the 1990s appeal of this drink. It always has me going back for more.”

When asked if she has any memories associated with the drink, Khoker said: “My love for Vimto comes from my older brother, who loves berry drinks till date. As a younger copycat sister, I guess my emulation of him led to this Vimto craze in my adulthood!”

The Dubai resident said that having a glass (or two) of Vimto during iftar is refreshing and, “I totally get the hype! What’s not to love?”

She admitted that most people hardly know what Vimto is in India.

“It’s a part of the expatriate experience, I guess. Though, I believe Vimto is an acquired taste.”

Where to get it?

For the month of Ramadan, Baskin Robbins included a Vimto ice cream shake, as well as a Vimto ice cream cake in their menu.

Regional quality assurance and new product development head at Baskin Robbins, Sunil Crasta, said: “Vimto is the most popular product consumed during the month of Ramadan. We wanted to offer our valued customers a Ramadan flavour, which can be best combined with ice cream.”

The Vimto shake uses milk, two scoops of vanilla ice cream and a few spoons of Vimto syrup. The combination is then mixed in a blender and turns into a light purple Vimto ice cream shake.

They also have a Vimto ice cream cake (Dh132)

Store manager Aruna Amarasinghe, at an outlet on Shaikh Zayed Road, said: “The ice cream used in the cake is pralines and cream. The cake base is chocolate and the Vimto is used in the frosting.”

Another place you can get a Vimto flavoured dessert is M’oishi at City Walk. They introduced a Vimto mochi (Dh17), which is Japanese ice cream.

RDS_190431 Ice cream mochi-1559223696661

According to a spokesperson at M’oishi: “One of the fun things about mochi ice cream is that we can experiment with many different flavors when creating a recipe. We allow ourselves to be inspired by the traditions of the country. I would call Vimto ‘the flavour of the region’, especially during Ramadan.

“Vimto is used in the preparation of the ice cream as well as the rice dough that coats it. The Vimto mochi ice cream is a part of the special Ramadan menu at the store.”

Information:

Where: M’oishi, City Walk Dubai; Basking Robbins dessert parlor, Shaikh Zayed Road.