Ice Cream and the Aussies: The Indelible Mark of a Century-long Love Affair

Australia is one of the world’s biggest consumers of ice cream. Popular because of the extreme heat in many places across the country, this ubiquitous frozen dessert holds a special place in the Australian palate.

Because of the weather, Australian celebrations are typically outdoor affairs because of the climate. Barbecues are a popular part of the Australian birthday; young and old alike enjoy meat and seafood grilled on the barbie while enjoying a hearty day out with friends and family. These sunny gatherings, however, bring the heat of the Australian sun full force. To cap off every major event, Australians turn to a traditional standby: ice cream.

Many parts of Australia are warm year-round, and Aussies cope with the heat by consuming ice cream. Australians buy ice cream almost every day and make the frozen dessert a frequent feature in many special gatherings. As of 2016, Australia ranks second in the world rankings for largest ice cream consume (narrowly beaten by, surprise, the very cold Norway).  This is a title they maintain through the sheer volume they consume regularly.

A Never-Ending Appetite

The Aussie sweet tooth’s desire for ice cream is encapsulated in statistics. As the world’s second-biggest consumer, Australia’s love of ice cream is distributed throughout several demographics. People young and old love ice cream, and

Unlike most countries, ice cream has no peak season in Australia; surveys suggest that over 93 per cent of Australian consumers purchase ice cream regardless of the season, owing to the continent’s demanding climate.

Chilling out, the Aussie way

Rather than settle for ordinary birthday cakes, many Australians opt to instead celebrate with ice cream cakes. These delicious treats—either a combination of cake and ice cream or a cake made entirely out of ice cream, are a popular way to cap off someone’s special day.

Ice cream cake has become a popular treat on birthdays, perhaps even surpassing conventional birthday cakes in prevalence and popularity. Far from being seasonal, the love affair that Australia has for ice cream cake is one that manifests all year round, with these frozen treats being a feature of every celebration. Besides birthdays, ice cream cakes are also served and eaten in special holidays such as Mother’s Day.

A Long History

Woman eating ice cream

Ice cream arrived down under more than a century ago in Manly, Sydney. The industry has since grown from a single fellow in his truck; the new concoction proved phenomenally popular in a country where most places are perpetually hot. Since then, the Australian love-affair with ice cream continued to grow.

The earliest ice creams in the country were proprietary concoctions that resembled the ice cream styles found in America and Italy. Eventually, a style of ice cream that could rightly be called Australian emerged, bearing the hallmarks of both the original creamy, custard-like American ice creams and the less prominently creamy yet more strongly flavoured Italian ice creams, gelato.

Today, ice cream has become a cultural institution, and there are several ways to enjoy it, whether fresh from the tub or alongside a complex mix of other flavours and add-ons. Aussies now have a much more sophisticated palate that breaks gustatory frontiers, incorporating a plethora of oddball flavours.

Urban rivalries continue to mark the ice cream scene, though not a few famous home-grown brands emerged triumphant from lesser known suburbs.