Too stupid to order ice cream in the US?

Too stupid to order ice cream in the US?

When you move abroad it is often the smaller things in daily life that remind you that you are living outside your known culture. One occasion this week has been ordering ice-cream. The bewildered faces of both, the ice-cream seller and me, would have been ready for stage ๐Ÿ™‚ So why is ordering ice-cream so tricky in the US? Let’s dive right into it.

icecream, us vs europe, differences, culture

How do you order?

Basically, there is a different approach to order ice cream. In Europe, you pay by the scoop and each scoop has a different flavor. At the end you will have 3 scoops, with 3 different flavors, stacked on one small ice cream cone and you will hurry to eat in order not to spoil the ice cream all over you (at least that is my common approach:-))

In the US, I learned that one scoop is a way bigger size and you, therefore, might be able to order 2 flavors within one scope. However, this is not possible in all places which leads to a lot of confusion. So let’s just say I ended up with a giant amount of strawberry ice-cream the last time while in other places I will get 2-3 flavors for the same price.ย 

The size of a scoop

Last time I asked the vendor how big a scoop is and she showed me her tiny fist. In reality, I ended up with the amount of one very huge fist which would be about 3 scoops in Germany. That was kind of challenging for my stomach but of course, I made it ๐Ÿ™‚ This also explains the huge price difference between the US and Europe per scoop.

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The cone

I miss the European ice-cream cones! They are buttery and crisp and you even get those cones when you only order 1 scoop (at least in the better places) In the US, there are a couple of smaller waffles for 1-2 scoops but they are not the same quality. I found very good ice cream cones in the US but they are mostly huge and you would not order them if you only want a smaller amount of ice-cream. But hey, we are in America and everything is big here, so my bad for wanting a small ice-cream ๐Ÿ™‚

Difference in ingredients

Most ice creams in the US are based on milk while in Europe you will also find many refreshing flavors on a sorbet basis. The Americans prefer dairy ice cream (or milk substitutes) while Europeans sell flavors such as strawberries and lemon mostly as sorbet. I can see that trendy American chains are also adding more and more sorbets now but the majority is still selling the good old milk ice-cream.

icecream, culture, us, europe, differences
This is one scoop in the US by the way ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s funny how something so basic and essential as ice-cream is so different around the world and not only in terms of ingredients but also how you order and consume it. These are the great cultural habits we live by without questioning that there are other ways.

My next European gelato will be in Italy in September and I will order two scoops of sorbet without feeling sick after it (due to the amount) – at least I hope so.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing the love

Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

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2 thoughts on “Too stupid to order ice cream in the US?”

  • I found these small differences the most unexpected. Britain and America share many things in common, but when I made my move I was really struck by the little things, and these little things made me feel like I was in some alternate reality! I have been in the US for nearly 5 years and I STILL get caught out!

    • Haha, great to know I am not the only one. It’s really the small things that make the difference ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy exploring

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