Humans have been using frozen treats to beat the heat for millennia. One of the earliest examples, a Persian proto–snow cone of ice and grape syrup, dates back as early as 400 B.C. In the time since, chilled sweets have assumed myriad flavors and forms around the world.
Beyond their delicious offerings, ice cream parlors, soda fountains, and street carts often provide a window into local history and culture. In Havana, Cuba, an ice cream shop built by Fidel Castro dates back to the leader’s 1960s campaign to rival the American dairy industry. In Cape Town, South Africa, a microbiologist meticulously works out flavor combinations that tell the stories of distinctly African ingredients. And in Stockholm, Sweden, the Nobel museum’s bistro serves up the same gorgeously sculpted ice cream enjoyed by the distinguished recipients of the titular prize. Here are 14 shops and street stalls where the stories and the flavors are anything but vanilla.
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