Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Morozhenoe: The Real Cold War

 

Ever heard of “Ded Moroz?” It’s Russian for “Grandfather Frost” — their Santa Claus. Morozhenoe is Russian ice cream, and even in Soviet days, it was available at ice cream stands all over Moscow, even in cold weather. Russians have some things in common with Americans–wide open spaces, manifest destiny, a less than delicate attitude towards life, love of country, a well-known space program. And ice cream; they make astonishingly good ice cream.

In 1986 you could go into a cafeteria–Stolovaya–and get a pretty good basic lunch. Chicken soup, bread, a vegetable, a glass of tea for about 35 cents. This is part of what makes writing about the Iron Curtain days tricky for pre-Trump conservatives: the Soviets weren’t lying about everything, just a lot of things. The subway was immaculate and cost seven cents. Ice cream was available everywhere, as evidently it was part of a confidence-building Five Year Plan at some point.

The most distinctive thing is, it was high fat ice cream. As in, OMG, this is the richest, sweetest ice cream I’ve ever tasted. Good thing that unlike so many other Ricochet members, I have no defense secrets to reveal. This Morozhenoe is more tempting than Mata Hari.

Not that ice cream and the left wing have no mutual associations in the USA. The slightly socialistic New Deal road development projects planned and built by New York’s midcentury superboss, Robert Moses, created a new beachfront community called Jones Beach, known now to generations of New Yorkers. There were no trains to Jones Beach, and that’s the way Moses–Robert Moses, that is–wanted it. You had to drive to get there, which in Thirties terms meant you had to be middle class, and–let’s be honest–you all but had to be white at that time. There weren’t too many Black families buying Ford Model A’s to get to Jones Beach. That was what amounted to progressive leftism in the NYC thirties.

Jones Beach attracted big crowds almost immediately, and a treat created for it was called Mello-roll. Before McDonald’s, this was a semi-automated fast food. It was ice cream in a Pillsbury Doughboy-style round cardboard container, perforated every three inches. A specially shaped Mello-roll cone accepted the sideways cylinder of ice cream, which was unwrapped from its backing when it was dropped in the cone. Kinda futuristic by Thirties standards.

After the war, an entrepreneur named Tom Carvel pioneered the use of soft ice cream dispensers. Carvel was a northeastern “thing” and he had a walk-up location a few blocks from where I grew up. When I say, “walk up,” I mean it; no inside, no chairs, no nothin’. But the ice cream was pretty good, fondly remembered by NYC expatriates to this day.

Finally, in the late Seventies, a decadent decade got the decadently rich ice cream America deserved. Haagen-Dazs was made in the Bronx (like me!) but its name and mildly pretentious packaging convinced yuppies that they were eating something better than American ice cream.

As if there could be such a thing.

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There are 54 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    Gary McVey: After the war, an entrepreneur named Tom Carvel pioneered the use of soft ice cream dispensers.

    Maybe in New York, but the first usage was in Illinois, and the first dedicated soft-serve ice cream place was opened in Joliet, Illinois in 1940. It’s name? Dairy Queen.

    • #1
    • July 7, 2019, at 2:28 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: After the war, an entrepreneur named Tom Carvel pioneered the use of soft ice cream dispensers.

    Maybe in New York, but the first usage was in Illinois, and the first dedicated soft-serve ice cream place was opened in Joliet, Illinois in 1940. It’s name? Dairy Queen.

    OK, you got the historical point. But DQ, which we never heard of, didn’t have Tom Carvel’s gravelly voiced radio commercials, which sounded like a raspier George Thorogood. 

    • #2
    • July 7, 2019, at 2:35 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Ben and Jerry’s certainly keep the decadent dessert (sugary socialist, praline pink?) left well represented, in a chill hippy sort of way.

    This is part of our July theme series, in which you are invited to tell us how to “Chill Out!” Do click the link and sign up to share your own cool post.

    I’m renewing the call for a post on cool jazz. I do hope I don’t have to go to “Ice, Ice Baby.” You know I will, if forced to it.

    • #3
    • July 7, 2019, at 2:41 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Scott Wilmot Member

    Is your knowledge of Soviet ice cream first hand?

    • #4
    • July 7, 2019, at 2:46 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Post author

    It sure is. 

    • #5
    • July 7, 2019, at 2:48 AM PST
    • 17 likes
  6. Steve C. Member

    Gary McVey: After the war, an entrepreneur named Tom Carvel pioneered the use of soft ice cream dispensers. Carvel was a northeastern “thing”, and he had a walk-up location a few blocks from where I grew up. When I say, “walk up”, I mean it; no inside, no chairs, no nothin’. But the ice cream was pretty good, fondly remembered by NYC expatriates to this day. 

    This style was common for post war quick service places. The McDonalds, $.18 hamburgers, in North Haledon was a walk up. As was our first Dairy Queen. The DQ, which looked like a big white barn, was later replaced by a DQ Brazier with inside seating. 20 odd years later, when we lived in Hempstead, there was still a walk up Carvel. With Tom Carvel ubiquitous on TV hawking Fudgie the Whale.

    Our go to place for burgers was Gino Marchetti’s. 

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gino%27s_Hamburgers

     

     

    • #6
    • July 7, 2019, at 5:26 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    I’ve heard about Soviet ice cream, seen the street vending depicted in movies, and even had to learn a song about it in an evening Russian class, but the closest I’ve come to a first-hand experience with it is your description. Thanks!

    • #7
    • July 7, 2019, at 5:27 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  8. Steve C. Member

    Gary McVey: In 1986 you could go into a cafeteria–Stolovaya–and get a pretty good basic lunch. Chicken soup, bread, a vegetable, a glass of tea for about 35 cents. This is part of what makes writing about the Iron Curtain days tricky for pre-Trump conservatives: the Soviets weren’t lying about everything, just a lot of things

    Tricky? It’s a layup.

    • #8
    • July 7, 2019, at 5:53 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    This style was common for post war quick service places.

    When I was at school at Auburn we had a similar place called the Sani-Freeze in downtown Auburn. We used to walk over from the dorm and get ice cream from the window. They also served hamburgers and hot dogs. Opened in the early 60’s, it was there for decades. It was finally demolished in the 90’s to make way for a bank.

    Two years ago, the School of Architecture, as part of a Building Science project, made a recreation of the building at the Auburn Alumni Center. They bring it out on football Saturdays and sell food and ice cream.

    Shown below are the original and the new Sani-Freeze at the ribbon-cutting event.

     

    • #9
    • July 7, 2019, at 6:07 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  10. PHCheese Member

    Pittsburgh had Isaly’s skyscraper cones. .15 cents when I was a kid. They had deli stores all over the city.

    • #10
    • July 7, 2019, at 6:29 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: After the war, an entrepreneur named Tom Carvel pioneered the use of soft ice cream dispensers.

    Maybe in New York, but the first usage was in Illinois, and the first dedicated soft-serve ice cream place was opened in Joliet, Illinois in 1940. It’s name? Dairy Queen.

    OK, you got the historical point. But DQ, which we never heard of, didn’t have Tom Carvel’s gravelly voiced radio commercials, which sounded like a raspier George Thorogood.

    Cultural appropriation is what it is, McVey.

    • #11
    • July 7, 2019, at 7:01 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  12. She Thatcher
    She

    Gary McVey: A specially shaped Mello-roll cone accepted the sideways cylinder of ice cream, which was unwrapped from its backing when it was dropped in the cone. Kinda futuristic by Thirties standards.

    Flashback to the UK (Lanes) in probably about 1958, where I used to love buying a treat which consisted of a rectangular block of ice cream (probably Walls) and the special cone that went with it, shaped to fit. Yep, here it is. You could make your own ice-cream sandwich too:

    The best I’ve ever had was “Just Rachels” damson and sloe gin ice cream. I first tasted it before they hit the bigtime and became a supplier to Waitrose and other chains. IMHO, it’s no longer quite as good (I think they’ve squeezed some of the fat out, or use less cream in proportion to milk), but still delicious.

    Great post. Love thinking about ice cream in this stinking heat.

    • #12
    • July 7, 2019, at 7:12 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  13. She Thatcher
    She

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Pittsburgh had Isaly’s skyscraper cones. .15 cents when I was a kid. They had deli stores all over the city.

    Mr. She worked the Isaly’s in South Side, as well at the one in Mt. Lebanon, for several years during high school and college. He says he assembled thousands of skyscraper cones. Maybe he sold one to you!

    Here’s the official implement, on our little breakfast table which has the “official” diner pattern on the surface, along with a couple of red vinyl chairs to go with it. I’ve been offered $300 for the scoop:

    Image result for isalys skyscraper

     

    • #13
    • July 7, 2019, at 7:20 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  14. Aaron Miller Member

    People take their ice cream seriously. When the Blue Bell creamery reopened, people followed the trucks around to find out where they could buy it first. Then there were T-shirts:

    • #14
    • July 7, 2019, at 7:32 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Yeah, well, when I have ice cream, it’s chocolate chip Haagen Dazs. But I remember in the old days we would walk to Thrifty Drug Store where they had an ice cream counter. That’s where my addiction–er–desire for chocolate chip began. Great fun here, Gary. Thanks!

    • #15
    • July 7, 2019, at 8:07 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  16. Aaron Miller Member

    Blessed are the cheesemakers!

    • #16
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:02 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Maybe the abundance of ice cream in a country where basic foodstuffs were often scarce is because one of the biggest challenges of an established dairy industry is overproduction. You can’t tell a dairy cow to take a break when demand is low. She’s gonna keep making milk, and you’ve gotta keep pumping it outta her lest she explode. Ice cream’s one of the best methods for long-term preservation of milk products. Sure, there’s instant milk powder and condensed milk, but they aren’t nearly as tasty. There’s also cheese, but it results in quite a bit of waste whey you’ve gotta contend with. Full-fat ice cream helps use up all the available milk, and will keep for a long time without losing its flavour.

    Meanwhile, dairy may be attractive to central planners because it’s not nearly as sensitive to changing weather like food crops are. Wheat yields are affected by too much rain, too little rain, bugs, changes in soil chemistry, etc. Dairy cows, on the other hand, will eat a diverse variety of plants that tend to be resistant to bad weather. Even in a bad year for food crops, there’ll usually be plenty of feed for the dairy cows. So, dairy farmers get lots of love from agriculture ministers, which serves to exacerbate the overproduction issue.

    Maybe the Soviet ice cream had more fat than North American ice cream because there was more demand for milk fat from other industries, for things like cheese and confections, so ice cream makers had to make do with lower-fat milks. Also, if North American dairy farmers received fewer subsidies than Soviet dairy industry, there’d simply be less milk to go around so processors would have to learn to get the most out of the available supply.

    I dunno. I have no data to back any of this up. I’m just hypothesizing.

    • #17
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:03 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  18. PHCheese Member

    Cheese is the best vehicle for long term milk storage. Of course I am prejudice.

    • #18
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:26 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  19. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Cheese is the best vehicle for long term milk storage. Of course I am prejudice.

    A plausible claim, but if cheese is a better vehicle for dealing with a large dairy surplus, can you think of a good hypothesis for why the Soviets would have such an abundance of ice cream but aren’t particularly known for their cheese production?

    • #19
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:29 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Cheese is the best vehicle for long term milk storage. Of course I am prejudice.

    A plausible claim, but if cheese is a better vehicle for dealing with a large dairy surplus than ice cream is, can you think of a good hypothesis for why the Soviets would have such an abundance of ice cream but aren’t particularly known for their cheese production?

    1.  Central planning
    2. Trying to beat the US in ice cream seemed like a better PR goal than beating them in cheese.
    3. Easier to cover up flaws in the dairy production process by covering it with sugar.
    • #20
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:41 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  21. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: After the war, an entrepreneur named Tom Carvel pioneered the use of soft ice cream dispensers.

    Maybe in New York, but the first usage was in Illinois, and the first dedicated soft-serve ice cream place was opened in Joliet, Illinois in 1940. It’s name? Dairy Queen.

    OK, you got the historical point. But DQ, which we never heard of, didn’t have Tom Carvel’s gravelly voiced radio commercials, which sounded like a raspier George Thorogood.

    DQ also never created anything nearly as iconic as Fudgie The Whale or Cookiepuss.

    ;-)

    We didn’t have Carvel in Soviet Canuckistan, but even I have heard of Fudgie The Whale and Cookiepuss (largely because we got US television from Rochester NY).

    • #21
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:47 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Jimmy Carter Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Maybe the abundance of ice cream in a country where basic foodstuffs were often scarce is because one of the biggest challenges of an established dairy industry is overproduction. You can’t tell a dairy cow to take a break when demand is low. She’s gonna keep making milk, and you’ve gotta keep pumping it outta her lest she explode. Ice cream’s one of the best methods for long-term preservation of milk products. Sure, there’s instant milk powder and condensed milk, but they aren’t nearly as tasty. There’s also cheese, but it results in quite a bit of waste whey you’ve gotta contend with. Full-fat ice cream helps use up all the available milk, and will keep for a long time without losing its flavour.

    Meanwhile, dairy may be attractive to central planners because it’s not nearly as sensitive to changing weather like food crops are. Wheat yields are affected by too much rain, too little rain, bugs, changes in soil chemistry, etc. Dairy cows, on the other hand, will eat a diverse variety of plants that tend to be resistant to bad weather. Even in a bad year for food crops, there’ll usually be plenty of feed for the dairy cows. So, dairy farmers get lots of love from agriculture ministers, which serves to exacerbate the overproduction issue.

    Maybe the Soviet ice cream had more fat than North American ice cream because there was more demand for milk fat from other industries, for things like cheese and confections, so ice cream makers had to make do with lower-fat milks. Also, if North American dairy farmers received fewer subsidies than Soviet dairy industry, there’d simply be less milk to go around so processors would have to learn to get the most out of the available supply.

    I dunno. I have no data to back any of this up. I’m just hypothesizing.

    Do You ever take a break? 

    • #22
    • July 7, 2019, at 10:03 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  23. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):
    Do You ever take a break? 

    • #23
    • July 7, 2019, at 10:40 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  24. Percival Thatcher

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Maybe the abundance of ice cream in a country where basic foodstuffs were often scarce is because one of the biggest challenges of an established dairy industry is overproduction. You can’t tell a dairy cow to take a break when demand is low. She’s gonna keep making milk, and you’ve gotta keep pumping it outta her lest she explode. Ice cream’s one of the best methods for long-term preservation of milk products. Sure, there’s instant milk powder and condensed milk, but they aren’t nearly as tasty. There’s also cheese, but it results in quite a bit of waste whey you’ve gotta contend with. Full-fat ice cream helps use up all the available milk, and will keep for a long time without losing its flavour.

    Meanwhile, dairy may be attractive to central planners because it’s not nearly as sensitive to changing weather like food crops are. Wheat yields are affected by too much rain, too little rain, bugs, changes in soil chemistry, etc. Dairy cows, on the other hand, will eat a diverse variety of plants that tend to be resistant to bad weather. Even in a bad year for food crops, there’ll usually be plenty of feed for the dairy cows. So, dairy farmers get lots of love from agriculture ministers, which serves to exacerbate the overproduction issue.

    Maybe the Soviet ice cream had more fat than North American ice cream because there was more demand for milk fat from other industries, for things like cheese and confections, so ice cream makers had to make do with lower-fat milks. Also, if North American dairy farmers received fewer subsidies than Soviet dairy industry, there’d simply be less milk to go around so processors would have to learn to get the most out of the available supply.

    I dunno. I have no data to back any of this up. I’m just hypothesizing.

    As long as you have ice houses or sufficient refrigeration. Artificial refrigeration had been around since 1834.

    • #24
    • July 7, 2019, at 10:48 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Cheese is the best vehicle for long term milk storage. Of course I am prejudice.

    A plausible claim, but if cheese is a better vehicle for dealing with a large dairy surplus than ice cream is, can you think of a good hypothesis for why the Soviets would have such an abundance of ice cream but aren’t particularly known for their cheese production?

    1. Central planning
    2. Trying to beat the US in ice cream seemed like a better PR goal than beating them in cheese.
    3. Easier to cover up flaws in the dairy production process by covering it with sugar.

    So why, in the 1930s, did the Federal government give away lots of cheese to the needy, but no ice cream? I wonder if FDR would have had more admirers if they had given away ice cream rather than cheese?

    • #25
    • July 7, 2019, at 11:24 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  26. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    I went to Washington State University in the 1970s, and the Dairy Science department had (and still has) a store named Ferdinand’s. Lines were around the block in late spring and early summer, waiting for ice cream. I checked, and they have expanded the shop to include espresso. They also sell the world-famous Cougar Gold cheese.

    • #26
    • July 7, 2019, at 11:30 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. SkipSul Moderator

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Maybe the Soviet ice cream had more fat than North American ice cream because there was more demand for milk fat from other industries, for things like cheese and confections, so ice cream makers had to make do with lower-fat milks. Also, if North American dairy farmers received fewer subsidies than Soviet dairy industry, there’d simply be less milk to go around so processors would have to learn to get the most out of the available supply.

    The American dairy industry has been almost as centrally controlled as the Soviet system. Beginning in the 1930s, various dairy cartels were established around the country, each based on some regional state as a hub for being the “biggest” dairy producer in that region. Vermont, for instance, got most-favored status as part of the Northeast Dairy Compact (George W. Bush’s attempt to reduce Vermont’s clout in stetting dairy prices was a huge part of what got Jim Jeffords to switch to the Dems in 2001). Wisconsin continues to have price control powers over midwestern dairy production too, even though Ohio now easily rivals it, and sometimes surpasses it, in terms of overall dairy production.

    What drove the milkfat out of ice cream had nothing to do with all this, but rather a couple of other trends:

    • Soft-serve is not really ice cream, it is ice-milk (as defined by the FDA), and has little in the way of milk fats at all.
    • The mania to drive all fats out of American foods also drove milk-fat out of ice cream. A lot of ice-creams still sold today as ice creams barely meet the FDA-defined minimum definition of ice cream.
    • #27
    • July 7, 2019, at 11:33 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  28. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Cheese is the best vehicle for long term milk storage. Of course I am prejudice.

    A plausible claim, but if cheese is a better vehicle for dealing with a large dairy surplus than ice cream is, can you think of a good hypothesis for why the Soviets would have such an abundance of ice cream but aren’t particularly known for their cheese production?

    1. Central planning
    2. Trying to beat the US in ice cream seemed like a better PR goal than beating them in cheese.
    3. Easier to cover up flaws in the dairy production process by covering it with sugar.

    Good point, especially considering they presumably got their sugar relatively cheaply from Cuba.

    Also, ice cream’s easier to make than cheese is, which is probably why you don’t see nearly as many home cheesemaking machines as you do home ice cream machines.

    Mediocre cheese can be pretty bad, and bad cheese can kill you, but even bad ice cream is still pretty good.

    • #28
    • July 7, 2019, at 11:40 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Cheese is the best vehicle for long term milk storage. Of course I am prejudice.

    A plausible claim, but if cheese is a better vehicle for dealing with a large dairy surplus than ice cream is, can you think of a good hypothesis for why the Soviets would have such an abundance of ice cream but aren’t particularly known for their cheese production?

    1. Central planning
    2. Trying to beat the US in ice cream seemed like a better PR goal than beating them in cheese.
    3. Easier to cover up flaws in the dairy production process by covering it with sugar.

    So why, in the 1930s, did the Federal government give away lots of cheese to the needy, but no ice cream? I wonder if FDR would have had more admirers if they had given away ice cream rather than cheese?

    a) The US has a much warmer climate than Russia does, making refrigeration way more expensive?

    b) When did the Soviet craze for ice cream start? I presume it doesn’t go all the way back to the 1930s.

    c) Also, was this ice cream craze all over the USSR, or was it only in Moscow (where the foreign press and foreign diplomats were sequestered)?

    • #29
    • July 7, 2019, at 11:42 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  30. Percival Thatcher

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Cheese is the best vehicle for long term milk storage. Of course I am prejudice.

    A plausible claim, but if cheese is a better vehicle for dealing with a large dairy surplus than ice cream is, can you think of a good hypothesis for why the Soviets would have such an abundance of ice cream but aren’t particularly known for their cheese production?

    1. Central planning
    2. Trying to beat the US in ice cream seemed like a better PR goal than beating them in cheese.
    3. Easier to cover up flaws in the dairy production process by covering it with sugar.

    So why, in the 1930s, did the Federal government give away lots of cheese to the needy, but no ice cream? I wonder if FDR would have had more admirers if they had given away ice cream rather than cheese?

    Despite refrigeration being around for a while, personal refrigerators and freezers didn’t have the market penetration that they do now. There were still companies making home deliveries of ice well into the Forties.

    • #30
    • July 7, 2019, at 11:45 AM PST
    • 4 likes
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