There is a hint of New Zealand in the air at the University of Delaware’s UDairy Creamery this summer with the introduction of a new ice cream flavor, Hokey Pokey, to the menu.
The flavor was inspired by students who went to New Zealand on a University of Delaware study abroad program during Winter Session. They brought back with them a better understanding of the country, and that served as the catalyst for the new flavor.
Madison Cahill, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), and Nikki Dowgos, a 2016 CANR graduate who majored in pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences, were part of the most recent study abroad, and they returned eager to bring some New Zealand influence back with them to the United States.
As a food science major, Cahill said she wanted to try as many foods as possible while in New Zealand and incorporate those flavors into her future endeavours. She found a favorite in the nation’s popular honeycomb-based candy called Hokey Pokey.
“To be completely honest, I think I ate Hokey Pokey every day. Nikki and I came back, and we talked to Melinda Shaw [UDairy Creamery manager] about bringing the flavor over. Turns out, she [loved Hokey Pokey] and always wanted it in the creamery,” said Cahill.
Hokey Pokey was not the easiest flavor to recreate as it required preliminary research and the staple ingredient of the flavor, the honeycomb candy, was too expensive to import.
“We searched around online until we found a recipe we thought could work,” said Cahill.
Shaw said, “We had to research whether we could get a hold of the candy. It turns out we have to make it ourselves, because I believe we are the only ones in the country with the flavor. The candy is the hardest part about Hokey Pokey, but that’s what is so unique about the ice cream.”
Having been to New Zealand herself, Shaw always wanted to bring the flavor to the creamery, and when Cahill and Dowgos came back raving about it, she told them to “figure out how to make it.”
The UDairy Creamery website describes it as “vanilla ice cream with handmade New Zealand style sponge candy pieces,” and the flavor not only has a unique taste, but also packs a rich history.
The Hokey Pokey man
“Back in the day, in Italy, the ice cream man was called the Hokey Pokey man. The ice cream man in Italy would say ‘c e un poco,’ or have a little,” said Shaw.
The ice cream man eventually became known as the “Hokey Pokey man” because of the way he’d sing and chant the phrase.
In New Zealand, Hokey Pokey showed up in stores in the late 1940s and it became such a part of New Zealand culture that the ice cream is included in tourism sites about New Zealand.
Making the candy is tricky because it is like concocting a caramel, which requires a very specific temperature of the liquid sugar. The candy is hard like toffee, but has little air bubbles that make it very light and it melts in the mouth like cotton candy. The fact that it melts so easily also makes it tricky because when it comes into contact with the ice cream, it melts slightly.
“The candy is the most challenging. It’s a unique recipe that takes some time. You have to babysit it,” said Jennifer Rodammer, assistant manager of the UDairy Creamery.
A New Zealand staple
Lesa Griffiths, the T.A. Baker Professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and coordinator of the study abroad program, has been leading students to New Zealand since 1999. “All the students that go to New Zealand end up trying Hokey Pokey because it’s everywhere,” she said. “Ice cream is very popular in New Zealand – almost more than in the U.S.”
Griffiths said that when Limin Kung, chair of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and the S. Hallock du Pont Professor of Animal Science, offered to buy ice cream for students returning for the 2016 Alumni Weekend, “they were all surprised and delighted to find Hokey Pokey was on the flavor list.”
Hokey Pokey may not be available year-around, so those who wish to try a taste of New Zealand should plan on stopping by the UDairy Creamery this summer.
Hokey Pokey isn’t the only flavor with cultural influence available at the creamery, as flavors such as 1923, Peach Green Tea and Mexican Chocolate all have a global influence.
Each April, the UDairy Creamery also creates a flavor for the Institute for Global Studies (IGS), creating a treat to represent the country that IGS features.
Article by Courtney Messina
This article can also be viewed on UDaily.