Walking the streets, licking an ice cream cone: that used to be summer.
Now we have posh ice cream and it comes in a paper or plastic tub with a spoon. And all that litter often ends up on the street.
So now, stepping on a sticky ice-cream tub: that’s summer.
Look at Dun Laoghaire.
For more than 60 years, Teddy’s Ice Cream was king there, serving 99s in cones to generations of Dubliners and other visitors to the East Pier. Last year, Scrumdiddly’s opened near the opposite pier, with the opposite draw: variety.
It boasts that due to its numerous flavours of ice cream and toppings, you can choose from more than 2,400 combinations when constructing your ice-cream dream – in a tub.
Outside the front door of Scrumdiddly’s is a reminder of the problem that this inedible packaging creates: an overflowing, knee-high bin.
Walk for a minute or two in any direction from Scrumdiddly’s, and you are guaranteed to come across a trail of smashed, brightly coloured plastic spoons, leading to a discarded ice-cream pot or two – despite owner Darren McCormack’s best efforts.
“They shut at around nine and Darren spends the next hour or so picking stuff up and cleaning up all along the street. Then he’ll go up 50 yards up Kelly’s Avenue,” said Liam Fitzpatrick, owner of the nearby Connaught House bed and breakfast.
“He’s first-class. We never have anything in our gardens or outside our houses. All the neighbours are the same. I’m amazed there’s not a blitz of it everywhere, but it’s down to Darren,” said Fitzpatrick.
No Shortage of Bins
There are bins around the store. One by the front door, recycling bins around the corner, and a brand new solar-powered public bin across the road.
At the start of this year, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council installed 400 state-of-the-art bins at a cost of €2.3 million. Now there are enough council bins to hold 250,000 litres of rubbish, up from 45,000 litres. And the council can track rubbish levels remotely, with a web-based application.
Of the 400 new bins, 40 are on or near the seafront. A Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council spokesperson said the council took into account the locations of takeaways, including ice-cream parlours, when they decided where to put them.
But despite all this, there is still littering.
Connaught House’s Fitzpatrick says we’re a “nation of litterers”.
“A lot of it is the teenagers coming back from sailing,” he says. “You’d find the odd pot or coke can, but there’s not a lot we can do about that.”
The Rise of the Plastic Tub
Scrumdiddly’s, with its tubs, reflects a wider Irish trend. So we’re likely to see more tubs full of ice-cream dregs in the future.
There’s been a “huge increase” in sales of plastic and paper tubs, according to Joe Doherty, sales manager at Waferltd.co.uk, a supplier of ice-cream accessories. (“Ireland’s leading supplier. Now in the UK.”)
Doherty estimates that the scooped-ice-cream market makes up 25 percent of Ireland’s overall ice-cream market. And, he says, it is where the growing demand for paper and plastic tubs is coming from.
“The demand for artisan ice cream, locally made, is higher than ever ,with people willing to spend big on it,” he says. “Look at Gino’s chain and Murphy’s as an example of this.”
The eco-friendly 99 and its cone aren’t about to fade away yet, though says Doherty, who is on the board of the Ice Cream Alliance, a national federation of ice cream retailers and manufacturers.
“Cone sales in Ireland are bucking the trend of other European countries due to the entrenched demand for the traditional 99,” he says. “We eat more whipped ice cream per head than any other European country and 90 percent of this are 99s served on a cone.”
The queues outside Teddy’s Ice Cream in Dun Laoghaire are proof of this.
The family-run parlour sits opposite the sea near the bottom of the East Pier. If you haven’t been to this, their flagship shop, you might have been to the stall in Enniskerry or Dundrum or visited one of their ice-cream trucks.
But you likely won’t have eaten out of a tub. The 65-year-old brand is cemented to the classic 99 in a cone, with a flake.
“That’s what we are famous for, and that’s what people come for,” says Yasmin Kahn, the manager, who is also owner Brian Kahn’s daughter.
Sure, they’ll offer small tubs for children to eat out of, or for coeliacs to use if they’re not in to the gluten-free cones. But, she says,”they aren’t popular.”
That’s why the East Pier is tidy and the Kahns don’t do overtime cleaning the streets.