Ice Cream Around the World

While ice cream is an iconic American summer treat, variations of it are enjoyed around the globe. From India’s Kulfi to Italy’s gelato, get a taste of the world's finest frozen delights.
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Japan: Mochi Ice Cream

This frozen treat fuses “the most American of treats (ice cream) and the most Japanese of desserts (mochi)” into an international taste sensation. The frozen sweet consists of golf-ball-sized mochi (sticky rice pounded into a soft texture) with an ice-cream filling in flavors like green tea and red bean. This popular Asian-American fusion dessert can be found in grocery stores all over the world.

Vermont: Ben and Jerry's

You can’t pass a ice-cream aisle without seeing this iconic American ice-cream brand staring you down, tempting you to try its latest concoction. It is the American ice dream -- two college grads, Ben and Jerry, open their first ice-cream shop in Burlington, VT, in 1978 and then take over the world ... one scoop of “Chunky Monkey” at a time.

Italy: Gelato

If you want to piss off an Italian, call gelato “ice cream.” While the two are quite similar in their deliciousness, gelato is typically denser and milkier than traditional ice cream. And the good news? Gelato contains less fat than ice cream, since it uses more milk than cream. And less fat means more room for flavor, like our favorites -- nocciola (hazelnut) and fragola (strawberry).

Israel: Halva Ice Cream

Israel’s take on ice cream? Halva ice cream. Halva, a sweet candy-like treat made from sesame seeds mashed into a sugar-and-honey paste, is common in many Israeli dishes. On a hot day in Tel Aviv, cooling off with Halva ice cream is a popular pastime.

France: Foie Gras Ice Cream

Leave it to the French to turn their ice cream into a delicacy. While the world continues to debate the cruelty of making foie gras -- overfattened duck liver -- we think everyone can be in agreement that ice cream doesn’t need to include over-the-top ingredients to taste gourmet. You had us at vanilla.

Iran: Faloodeh

On a warm summer day in Iran there’s nothing more refreshing than this Persian frozen dessert. Made of thin vermicelli noodles frozen with corn starch, rose water and lime juice, it’s a unique blend of citrus and floral tastes.

Turkey: Dondurma

Stretchy ice cream? While it sounds unusual, Turkish ice cream, dondurma, has a similar pliability to taffy. The dondurma street vendors in Istanbul have fun with its pliable texture, wowing passerby with its ability to not fall off a stick or melt. It’s thickened with salep, a flour made from orchids, which only adds to its exotic appeal.

Philippines: Cheese Ice Cream

Two comfort foods mix in this classic Filipino dessert, cheese ice cream. Once sold only by street vendors, today it’s crafted with real cheddar cheese by the brand Magnolia and sold in grocery stores all over the Philippines.

Germany: Spaghetties

While it might resemble pasta, Germany’s spaghettieis is vanilla ice cream drawn through a pastamaker and then topped with a strawberry topping (to look like tomato sauce). This playful play on pasta was created by an Italian in Germany in the 1960s and has been a popular dessert with kids and adults alike ever since.

Alaska: Akutaq

In a place with freezing temperatures, it’s hard to imagine a need for a cool-down dessert, but “Eskimo ice cream” is a popular local treat in Alaska. Traditionally, this native dish includes meat and fat from animals like seals, moose and caribou, although nowadays Crisco is a common substitute for animal fat. But seasonal ingredients like salmonberries and blueberries are still used in the modern version.

India: Kulfi

A mix of condensed milk, sugar and exotic flavors like saffron and cardamom, this popular Indian frozen dessert has a dense texture more similar to custard than ice cream. Traditionally, this cool treat was only found in India’s street markets, kept frozen in earthenware pots of ice and salt. Now its popularity is so widespread, you can find it in Whole Foods’ frozen-food aisles.

U.S. Wide: Frozen Yogurt

After Americans had one too many Ben and Jerry’s pints, they dreamed of a way to satisfy their love for cold, creamy desserts … while maintaining their waistline. Thus, frozen yogurt was born in the late 1970s and took off in the 1980s all over the United States as a low-fat alternative to ice cream. America’s craving for lower fat varieties didn’t stop Ben and Jerry, though … those brilliant guys now even offer Greek frozen yogurt, the latest healthy frozen indulgence.

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