A delicious alternative to ice cream, gelato has gained a moderate level of popularity in the United States, yet remains a quintessential aspect of Italian food culture. With a rich history and surprising health benefits, it’s no wonder that this delicious frozen treat has become so internationally known. Here are seven fun facts about gelato to get you excited about summer!
- Traditional Italian gelato was the product of a competition
During the Italian Renaissance, the Medici family held a contest for a frozen dessert that would rival French pastries. The winner of the competition made a concoction of fruit juice and ice, but it wasn’t until the late 1500s that famous artist and architect, Bernardo Buontalenti, created what we now call gelato.
- Italians weren’t the first to make gelato-like desserts
Although what we consider to be gelato originated in Italy, cultures were eating similar concoctions as early as 3000 BC. In parts of Asia, crushed ice with various flavors were consumed, and in Egypt, fruit juices were combined with ice as an offering to guests.
- Gelato only has three ingredients
Made with only milk, sugar and fruit, gelato’s simple recipe has endured for hundreds of years and continues to be a summertime favorite.
Did you know? If you replace the milk with water, you’ll get sorbet.
- Gelato is creamier and more flavorful than ice cream
Due to a lower percent of fat (7-9% versus 18-20%), less sugar and a slower churning process than ice cream, gelato is able to achieve a richer and creamier texture with intense flavors.
- Gelato means “frozen” in Italian
Stemming from the verb, “gelare,” meaning “to freeze,” gelato is the past participle of the word; therefore, the literal translation is simply “frozen.”
- Gelato didn’t become popular until the early 20th Century
Even though gelato was created in the 16th century, it was relatively unknown until the 1920s—1930s. Its rise in popularity is due mostly to the invention of the gelato cart. Started in the northern city of Varese, gelato carts are now a ubiquitous sight most Italian cities.
- You can get delicious gelato at any Mici location!
Did you know our gelato is made locally with hormone-free dairy products, no high fructose corn syrup or corn products and uses fresh fruit and juices? Come try our gelato today! Call your local Mici for the latest assorted flavors.