Who doesn’t love ice cream? On a hot day it’s one of the best cool-down options, that plus sorbets, gelato and shaved ice. Nowhere near an ice cream parlour? If you are in town, don’t worry because here in Saint Lucia, we still bring the ice cream to you!

Everyone at Tropical Traveller has happy childhood memories of ‘The Ice Cream Man’, and some of us were born in the 1950s! For decades the streets in and around Castries and towns throughout the island have been brightened by the sights and sounds of the ice cream and snow cone vendors with their mobile chiller carts, home-built from wood. Tourists and locals are delighted that this part of our culture remains strong today, providing happiness for customers, and a living for the vendors.

TT staff remember that the ice cream man (in the old days it was only men in this line of business) was always stationed outside the school, ready for when the pupils emerged after lessons. He would ring his hand bell and the students would race towards him, screaming their requests. The ice cream man, always neatly dressed in his white apron, greeted everyone with a smile and we couldn’t wait to indulge in that after-school treat.

In earlier times we had a limited choice of flavours but we were happy with the basic vanilla, chocolate and strawberry that were on offer. On Sundays, when lots of families went out together, the ice cream vendor would add an extra flavour to his cart: adults relished the rum and raisin that the children found too sour.

Younger TT staff members recall that the toppings available in the 1990s were chocolate syrup and sprinkles; very rarely were there cherries. The ice cream was served in a cone or cup, both of which came in a range of sizes from extra small to large. (TT staff favoured the cones as we liked the crunchiness compared to the smooth ice cream, or maybe we were just greedy.)

In the early days the ice-cream was ‘home-made’ – so the ice cream man said – although Ferrands, a local manufacturer of dairy products, commenced ice cream production in the 1960s utilizing bulk containers, and sold quantities to the independent ice cream vendors. Nowadays, if you look inside the cart, you will usually see the ice cream still sitting in the containers from which it was bought from the factory.

Tropical Traveller was delighted to meet David Alexander who, helped by Kenya Prospere, established Alex’s Shaved Ice on 1st January, 2017. His cart is cleverly propelled by bicycle with the chiller section at the rear and a “mixology” area up front. Serving ‘the best shaved ice in Saint Lucia’, Alex invites you to choose your size – small, medium or large – then create your own product by firstly selecting a filling: ice cream, local fruit, mixed fruit, gummy bears, jelly beans, then choosing from a wide selection of flavourings, with the option of a topping: whipped cream, sprinkles, syrup – chocolate, strawberry and caramel – plus a Lucian classic, condensed milk.

So next time you encounter one of these enterprising vendors of ice cream and shaved ice, purchase their product. It will make you feel good while helping to maintain a Saint Lucian tradition.

If readers have any nostalgic memories of the ice cream vendors, please contact the editor: doretta.f@stluciastar.com. If you are senior enough to have never mastered a computer, you can still write to us at PO Box 1146, Castries.