As temperatures soar upwards in India, a legal battle has ensued from Hindustan Unilever’s decision to sue the makers of Amul Ice cream. According to the plaintiff, Amul’s T.V commercial comparing Ice cream made with real milk to frozen desserts made with the addition of vanaspati oil has tarnished the reputation of brands such as Kwality Wall’s, sold under the HUL banner. This brings us to the question, whose ice cream is it anyway?
Tracing the origin of ice cream.
It goes without saying that without America, there would be no global ice cream industry today. Is the ice cream inherently American in nature then? The answer is no. To some, the credit for inventing the modern day ice cream goes solely to the Arabs who would serve ‘sherbets’ made by flavouring and freezing water. The French recognize these early precursors to the modern day ice cream, as ‘Sorbets’, or granitas if you’re Italian.
But do sorbets count as ice cream? Ice cream requires milk fat and going by this technicality, sorbets would not qualify as ice cream. Further still, the Arabs were responsible for the invention of the ‘kulfi’, which has been incorporated over time into the diet of many Indian households. The Kulfi too, however, does not qualify as ice cream, for ice cream must be creamy. Kulfi isn’t, Kulfi is hard. If there is one part of ice cream that the Arab’s are indisputable creators of, then it is the ice cream cone. The zalabia cone is prepared in much the same way as our very own jalebi. It then underwent several transformations until the present day waffle cone was born. The Italian gelato is a denser version of the ice cream and contains less fat. The Italians contend the view that Marco Polo brought the Ice cream along with him from his travels to China. The strongest evidence of the ice cream’s origin traces itself to the French. The French prepared a crème anglaise, literally an English cream, churned and frozen to get ice cream. While it is true that the Arabs were freezing milk long before the French did, churning to get a creamy ice cream is a practice of the French.
Having established that ice cream requires dairy fat derived from milk, the legal battle between Amul and Kwality Walls presents bleak prospects for the makers of frozen desserts. This is precisely why nobody ever thinks of the British when speaking of the invention of ice cream. The British are known to prepare their ice cream by making use of vegetable fat instead of milk fat. This case presents a new dimension of consumer rights in India. Lastly,
In addition to mercury levels, India’s ice cream war too seems to be raging.