China has entered Toufu on July 17th, the first phase of Sanfu. In the Chinese lunar calendar, Sanfu refers to the hottest period of the year, which includes three phases, that is, Toufu, Zhongfu and Mofu. On the long, hot summer days, few people have a good appetite. Ice cream and fruit sound more refreshing than a bowl of hot noodles.
Ice cream may be deemed as western dessert: the classic creamy texture is quite different from Chinese tastes. Actually, Chinese people have enjoyed "ice cream" in summer since ancient time. Here are some icy delicacies on summer days in ancient China and currently popular ones.
Icy Delicacy Favored by Royals and Nobles — Sushan
Sushan is a dish that looks like crushed ice with milk and butter. Wang Lingran, a Chinese Tang Dynasty Poet, described how people made and enjoyed Sushan in his poem Ode to Su He Shan. According to the text, sugar was added to Sushan of different shapes. Sometimes, Sushan was decorated with flowers and leaves to make it more beautiful.
His poem is cited by many scholars as evidence that Sushan is an early form of ice cream. However, only the royals and nobles were lucky enough to have large iceboxes to make this delicacy in summer.
Simple, Refreshing Icy Treats
Although there were no fridges in ancient times, iceboxes to store ice cubes in summer were very common in rich families by the Tang Dynasty.
At that time, common people could only afford ice water and shaved ice. People could easily buy iced beverages on the street during the Song Dynasty. For the benefit of the community, some rich people even offered free ice water and medicine to people in need on the street for free in hot summer.
Mung beans and licorice were often added to ice water sold during the Song Dynasty to help prevent heat stroke.
Resurrection from Brick-shaped Ice Cream to Fancy Sundaes
In recent years, classic Chinese brands of ice cream and popsicles are finding new ways to lure customers back, and here we see how Yimin, a time-honored Shanghai brand did the trick.
Speaking of Yimin's classic products, one has to mention its brick-shaped dessert which became one of the most popular ice cream after going on sale in the 1950s. Its popularity continued through the 1980s and 1990s, making it an important part of the childhood memory of several generations. Its size and shape resembled a soap bar. And consumers would dip it in soda water, mix it with cookies and fruits, or even use it as a dressing for fruit salad after it melts.
However, in the new century, a large number of imported ice cream brands began to compete with domestic brands for more market share. In recent years, local brands eventually started to fight back after years of stagnation – including the creative "Tri-color Cup" and this year's new product: Durian Sundae. If these new delicious treats will offer you nostalgia as a bonus, why not give it a try?