Saturday, February 26, 2011

Doing the "Hokey Pokey"

Sam has a lovely friend who came to our wedding last summer all the way from New Zealand. Mayana is energetic, lovely and knows how to get down to Johnny Cash cover songs. During her visit to the Flathead Valley we shared a wonderful meal with her and her amazing family on Flathead Lake. While visiting our shop, Miss Mayana informed us of a popular New Zealand ice cream flavor: Hokey Pokey. She had a hard time describing this supposedly delicious flavor so I did some research to find out what exactly is in the ice cream that has won over the people of New Zealand.

First, Hokey Pokey has less to do with the interactive song and dance than you think. The ice cream originates from the 1940's in New Zealand and is made of toffee bits added to vanilla ice cream. The original flavor contained toffee chunks in a variety of sizes but since the 1980's, the company Tip Top (the only company in New Zealand to make the flavor for national consumption) regulated the toffee bits and mass produces the toffee in uniform small balls. They claimed the larger chunks would get stuck in their batch freezers.
(It's a Love Affair in a Cone, Catherine Masters,

At Sweet Peaks, our version of Hokey Pokey homemade sponge toffee crushed into irregular shards and chunks that are then added to a light caramel ice cream. The result is just what New Zealanders (Kiwis) claim keeps them hooked on the Hokey; some of the toffee melts rippling through each scoop while some bits stay hard and crunchy. This is the most popular flavor in New Zealand, second only to vanilla. If you come in and try our Sweet Peaks version you will know why. My first taste of our Hokey Pokey was more than just a sample. I found myself bent over a pint digging for each toffee chunk and fending off Sam's tasting spoon. Hokey Pokey is my new heaven in a spoon! I did do a little dance of sorts when I realized how excited I was going to be adding this flavor to the Sweet Peaks Ice Cream line up. But, my dance wasn't the Hokey Pokey. If it doesn't have anything to do with what we know of as the kid's dance... then why the name? According to Wikipedia, Ice Cream vendors in New York and London were usually referred to as Hokey Pokey men. The ice cream vendors tended to be Italian men who sang a song with the phrase, "oh che poco" meaning, "oh how little" or some deviation of this phrase. They became the Hokey Pokey men and all ice cream was commonly referred to as "Hokey Pokey". (

I have had some customers sing me the Hokey Pokey song when ordering. No one has done the dance when ordering but come in and show us your stuff. Or, come in and sing us the less known Hokey Pokey song. In my research, I discovered a song by Richard and Linda Thompson called "Hokey Pokey". The husband and wife musical act performed in the 1970's in London and wrote their own ode to the ice cream men.

"Every boy runs for Hokey Pokey
Hear him ringing on the ice-cream bell
He's got the stuff that'll cool you right down
It's the best that they ever did sell (...)
Well, Annie she smiled and took another bite
Hokey Pokey made her feel alright, alright (...)"

Here at Sweet Peaks, we have lots of amazing flavors but Hokey Pokey might be what you consider, "(...)the best stuff they ever did sell"!

Now - back to my Saturday afternoon pint of Hokey Pokey.

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