Ice cream is my answer to everything, especially when I travel. Can it be yours too?
The happiness business. For many years, I designed products to delight and pleasantly surprise users of mobile phones and tablets. Like design, ice cream is a happiness business. Yet the question remained: Why is this frozen confection so popular with all ages? Why do people work in this business? And most importantly, does ice cream delight across all countries and cultures?
Ice cream has always been a big part of my life. Like every child, my parents served it to me as soon as I could eat. In everyday life, I trek across rain, cold, and snow just to have a single cone of ice cream. Then I created and led tours to ice cream destinations with friends—to consume as much (quality) ice cream as possible in one day. My most treasured kitchen tool is my ice cream scoop that I purchased with my first paycheck. When asked what my vice is, I answer, "Sugar!"
On my 29th birthday, I led my friends around to my favorite ice cream destinations in San Francisco. On my 30th birthday, I had an "open" bar at a local ice cream/soda fountain shop complete with custom flavors/recipes made by yours truly in collaboration with the soda jerks. I don't drink so when friends want to casually ask me out—they ask, "Want ice cream?"
But most importantly, in every trip, I always find that ice cream speaks across cultures.
On my first day in Bangkok, I woke up early in the morning due to jetlag. I was hesitant about the trip—the large group, the schedule, the heat. Wanting to take a walk, my friend and I walked outside—instead of taking a right where most tourists headed, we turned left. We came upon rows upon rows of local food stalls. Insects, foreign vegetables, jasmine flowers, fruits. We were the only tourists among the local Thais. Suddenly, a man pushing a silver cart appeared seemingly selling something delicious—he walked slowly up the street slicing through the heat. "Did he say 'ice cream'?" I asked my friend.
Against everything that the San Francisco travel nurse said (no cold street foods, no foods prepared outside of my sight), I got a cone of sweet corn ice cream, and it was the most delightful experience I had—shattering the humid morning heat...setting the tone just right for the trip. It captured the Bangkok heart, the authenticity and simplicity.
The question I seek to answer is:
Why ice cream? Why is it the one thing that all cultures have? A cold, sweet dessert in various forms. One that concludes in smiles and pleasure. And where in the world, can you have this experience?
Ice cream is my answer to everything. What to do now. What to discover. What to share. Rewards, consolations, and socializing are always good reasons to have a scoop of ice cream. From experimenting with ice cream flavors for regular ice cream socials to bringing visitors to ice cream shops across my hometown of San Francisco, I am on a journey to chronicle ice cream destinations across the world for an ice cream travel guide.
Right now, there is no guide to find ice cream throughout the world. I plan to change that.
The book will start with an introduction of ice cream: what it means to the world, what it means to me, how this project came to life, its history.
Each section for each city/country will include:
- Introduction of the place (map, trivia, etc.)
- Ice cream destinations
The book will end with acknowledgements (that includes you, Kickstarter backers!) and the process of this project (the challenges, the Kickstarter project).
The project will fund remaining research and extraneous fees for the purposes of:
- Logistics (flights, transit, language interpretator, translation of any documents/menus/interviews)
- Interviews with the ice cream makers (history, motivations)
- Collecting personal stories involving ice cream
- Kickstarter fees
All previous travel and work (including ongoing recipe development, design and development of the book, publishing) is self-funded.
Completed travel (already self-funded) include Philippines, Argentina, Ohio (Columbus), Washington (Seattle).
Completed interviews include Mitchells, Smitten, Bluebird, Cadore, La Casa Gelato.
Future destinations will include Italy, New York City, Los Angeles (and more if there is more backing!)
Some stops in chain shops and other frozen dessert shops (e.g. gelato if relevant to the destination) will also be included at discretion.
Project will result in:
- Ice cream destination maps of at least 5 cities/countries including the addresses, destination background, recommendations
- Book of the selected recipes, collected personal stories from ice cram makers and individual consumers, history, lessons
A related project is creating 31 ice cream flavors (from scratch) before I turn 31. With this project, I intimately understand the ice cream process and the challenges many ice cream makers face! My blog (http://31flavors.jennism.com) captures much of that experience. More will be on the project website (http://www.icecreamtravelguide.com).
Credit to Shaun Saperstein (http://www.thelastshaun.com/) for helping create an excellent video. Credit to Jessy Xia (http://www.yxvision.com/) for map design. Credit to Lester Lee (http://www.lesterlee.org/) for work on the logo.
The t-shirt will be produced by Cafepress, available in Men's and Women's sizes.
WHAT YOU CAN DISCOVER...
- With an influx of Italian immigrants, Buenos Aires is South America's ice cream capital. A heladeria is present at nearly every corner and every porteño (resident of Buenos Aires) has a childhood favorite. The best way to have ice cream is to eat it at midnight outside the shop.
- A classic shop in Taipei has 73 flavors, because the original owner believed he could make one more flavor than the 72 changing shapes of the Monkey King (a Chinese fable of monkey who had the power of shapeshifting). The third-generation owner intends to maintain the shop as it is currently as a tribute to his grandfather.
- Ice cream is really about good shopping. Quality milk and cream as well as the flavors help the texture of ice cream. When good ingredients are selected, they shine through to the taste.
- Every country and place has some version of ice cream beyond local flavors. Some places love their frozen custard. Others love shaved ice. Some ice cream is made with eggs. Others are without eggs. Even others still use cornstarch and tapioca syrup as main components.
"I have been eating ice cream since before I was born," an ice cream shop owner declared.
She quoted a customer whose parents had been eating at the shops for decades. But the owner recently realized that it made sense for herself: the shop that had been in her family for decades, the sweet tooth (and extra ice cream stomach) that never ended, and the love of this happiness business.
"People do not come to an ice cream shop because they are unhappy. They come for rewards, delights. They come because it's a cheap way to have fun. It's place for a community for all ages."
Universally, that's what I hear from every ice cream maker from the United States to Asia to South America to Europe. Ice cream, a delicious concoction of milk, cream, and sugar, is solidly an indulgence. What a wonderful indulgence it is.
Risks and challenges
1. Ice cream shops research
75% of the research and travel is complete. I will not be able to talk to every ice cream maker, but so far I have been successful. In some countries, a language barrier exists (I hire an interpretator in those cases), which means the stories I collect may not be to the same depth as those in English-speaking countries. The shops that I visit are based on word of mouth recommendations and research—it can be only comprehensive to a point. Advice from backers are appreciated!
25% of the writing is complete. I have been blogging for 10 years and writing for longer than that in various forms; however, this is my first book. With that in mind, I have meet with mentors (experienced writers and ice cream experts), attend 3 writers workshops weekly. I have started my own writers group to check my work. Not only that, I am supported by a community of technologists and designers from having worked in the tech world for nearly a decade. Most importantly, I am dedicated to this project full-time as I have put my previous career on hold and am working from my savings.
3. Order fulfillment
Like others, this is my first Kickstarter project, and I have not done order fulfillment in the past. However, a highly rated eBay power seller who handles daily high-volume transaction has offered to provide support. He will help me with packaging needs, post office challenges, mailing address mishaps, etc.
I am confident that I can deliver. With passion, I will deliver!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)