Ice Cream Uncle
Originally going around neighbourhoods in his motorcar to sell ice cream, the ice cream uncle has evolved today to setting up shop at strategic stationary positions around Singapore. Prices have still remained low at $1 although some uncles have raised their prices to $1.50. The Ice cream is from magnolia and can be eaten with rainbow-colored bread or in a wafer or cup.
Some popular central spots where you can find ice cream uncle:
- Outside Esplanade along the river near the bridge to Merlion Park.
- Clarke Quay - Along the main bridge to Jumbo in the centre of the drinking area
- Clarke Quay 2 - On the bridge outside Asian Civilization Musuem
- Orchard Road - This varies a lot but usually around Takashimaya
This simple treat has come a long way from satisfying the simple sweet-tooth to becoming a culinary game-changer. What was once a mere treat to end your meal has become a staple for many cafes around Singapore.
It is hard to compete against many ice-cream parlour giants in our sunny little island, but one dying trade continues to fight against the grain. Behold, the Ice Cream Uncle.
Ah yes, remember those? When the sun was beating down heavily upon you, the Ice Cream Uncle was the man after your own heart (or...stomach...). That iconic ring of the bell was the signal every primary school kid longed to hear, and when you did, it was almost euphoric.
There's a variety of flavours for you to pick, from good old plain vanilla to the quintessentially Singaporean durian. You could have it served in a cup, wrapped between a fluffy slice of bread or in between two thin, crisp wafers. The uncle (or aunty) would take a brick of ice-cream out of a mini refrigerator and proceed to carefully cut a thick slice from said 'brick', and then proceed to serve it to you the way you requested.
The best part? It's cheap, and it's good. Prices usually range from $1 to $1.50. The ice cream itself isn't Häagen-Dazs, but there's still enough sweetness and flavour to satisfy your craving.
Sadly though, there aren't as many of these Ice Cream Uncles around anymore. Most of us are no longer happy to just eat, we want to dine (even if it's just ice-cream). However, never underestimate the pleasure of an old fashioned ice-cream sandwich, especially when it tastes of pure nostalgia.
Flavours offered include the classic Vanilla, Chocolate, Chocolate chip as well as unorthodox flavours such as sweet corn and sweet potato. Ice Cream fanatics also have to choice of waffle, bread or simply having their ice cream in a cup. Ahh, this is definitely uniquely Singapore.
However, while the ice creams are sold at a fixed price of $1 in the past, some uncles located at populous areas such as Orchard Road charge a higher price of $1.50 now. Moreover, with more avant garde ways of eating ice cream today such as Hvala Waffle ice cream, the ice cream uncles may be slowly and dangerously losing their appeal.
You can find them at most of hotspots in Singapore, namely, Orchard Road, Esplanade and Clarke Quay. Most of the ice creams offered are from Magnolia with a variety of flavours. For example, durian, jagung, red bean and many others. You can have them either with wafer or bread. Most people are not aware of the attap chee (palm fruit) flavour which I highly recommend. I was only introduced to it this year. From then, I only order that from the ice cream uncle. It is unlike anything I have ever tasted before (does not taste like attap chee although it has bits of attap chee within the ice cream), however it is extremely refreshing and has a perfect balance of sweetness.
If you see an ice cream uncle, support him! Be a part of Team Ice Cream Uncle.
With local flavours like attap chee, durian and your staple chocolate chip, raspberry ripple to choose from, these ice cream delights have become iconic must-try for the young and old in Singapore.
My personal favourite is the sweet corn. I just love the creamy texture coupled with the chunky crunch of corn. There used to be an ice cream uncle stationed right outside my school gate and I'm quite proud to say that I gave him a lot of business during my primary school days!
These ice-cream stalls may pale in comparison to pretty cafes, and their limited, never-changing flavors may seem more boring than to that of gelati, but we ALL know how good they are. Mint chocolate chip is my personal favorite, and its mint green color goes so well with the multicolored bread that it makes me happy just by looking at it. No idea how this 'bread + ice-cream' combination came about but who knew something as ordinary as bread would taste this awesome with ice-cream!?
Miss the days when it only costed 80 cents to a dollar for one, but even till today, it's still an irresistible snack to have when walking along Orchard Road on a hot day. Kudos to these ice-cream uncles who work hard to make these old school ice-cream sandwiches available after all these years!
I remember buying lots of these ice-cream outside my primary school, and it was such a huge treat for us at that point of time. It was so nostalgic. Nowadays, I still buy ice-cream regularly from the ice-cream uncle near my house. For better deals, you can try to buy more ice-cream at the same time, and the uncle might give you a discount. My favourite flavours are chocolate mint and strawberry, as these flavours are so classic, tasty and so irreplaceable.
The ice-cream uncle is probably an icon unique to Singapore, and I hope it'll stay on for a long time, providing cheap and delicious ice-cream for all of us.
The ice-cream uncle was a rather insignificant part of my childhood. I only remember faint snippets of crunching on the wafer while savouring the cool ice-cream on a hot day. Oh, how good it tasted, never mind that it wasn't Ben & Jerry's or Magnum or any branded ice-cream. Somehow, this did not matter. Childhood was so simple and blissful, when a cone of ice-cream could make one happy.
Oh, how I miss the good ole days!
Sometimes it’s quite a messy sight with the ice cream melting. Other times, the whole ice cream would even drop down from the cone. But despite all that, I still love buying from these ice cream uncles as it’s so uniquely Singapore. And when the uncles are all so friendly, the taste doesn’t really matter anymore.
Sad to say, these sights are getting rarer with the increasing competition from cafes and other major ice cream retailers. So, do treasure them before they are gone.
As for the flavour I would get all Atap seed. Other flavours don't even get a chance for a mix. The atap seed is so good with bits of the fruit inside so it isn't totally creamy. And by far I couldn't find any other stalls carrying them. So go Atap if you happen to see one of those uncles!
My absolute favourite is ice cream in a bread. Honestly, I would have this ice cream over any other highly commercialised ice cream out there. They make me happy, and they make me nostalgic.
My only lament is that it's difficult to find them nowadays. They only appear in crowded places and prices have hiked up considerably as compared to past $1 days. The ice cream uncles that sell in crowded places usually don't serve good quality ice cream as well. It's just different, and it's not as good as before.
That said, I really do hope that the tradition of selling ice cream from bicycle carts will live on forever.