As a Filipino, why do you call the ice cream sold in an old-fashioned cart “dirty ice cream”?

“Dirty ice cream” is a popular street food in the Philippines that is sold from an old-fashioned cart.

It is a type of ice cream that has a unique name that often confuses foreigners.

In this blog post, I will explore why this ice cream is called “dirty ice cream” and other related questions.

Why is it called “dirty ice cream”?

In the Philippines, “dirty ice cream” is a term used to refer to the ice cream sold by street vendors who peddle their wares from old-fashioned carts.

 These vendors typically sell ice cream that is made from local ingredients such as carabao milk, coconut milk, and corn kernels. The term “dirty” may have been used to describe the ice cream because it is sold in an open-air environment and is not manufactured in a factory or commercial kitchen.

Despite the name, “dirty ice cream” is not actually dirty. The term is simply a colloquialism used to refer to ice cream that is sold by street vendors, as opposed to the commercially-produced ice cream sold in supermarkets.

Many Filipinos have fond memories of eating “dirty ice cream” as children, and it is still a popular treat in many parts of the country. The ice cream is often served in small wafer cones and is available in a variety of flavors, including cheese, ube (purple yam), and mango.

In summary, the term “dirty ice cream” is a Filipino colloquialism used to describe the ice cream sold by street vendors. Despite the name, the ice cream is not actually dirty and is made from local ingredients. It is a beloved treat in the Philippines and is enjoyed by people of all ages.

What is Filipino dirty ice cream?

Filipino dirty ice cream is different from the traditional ice cream that you would find in a grocery store.

It is usually made from coconut milk, carabao milk, or a combination of both, which gives it a distinct flavor and texture.

Unlike traditional ice cream, Filipino dirty ice cream is churned by hand and doesn’t have the same smooth consistency.

It is also often served in a small wafer cone or plastic cup, which makes it easy to eat on the go.

Why are sorbets called dirty ice cream?

Sorbetes is the Tagalog term for ice cream and is often used interchangeably with “dirty ice cream”. However, sorbets are not the same as traditional ice cream.

While traditional ice cream is made from milk, cream, and sugar, sorbet is made from coconut milk or carabao milk, which makes it a bit creamier and gives it a unique flavor.

Sorbetes is also churned by hand, which contributes to its unique texture.

What are the popular flavors of dirty ice cream in the Philippines?

Filipino dirty ice cream comes in a variety of flavors, but some of the most popular ones include:

  • Ube: A type of purple yam that is often used in Filipino desserts. Ube ice cream is a vibrant purple color and has a sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Mango: Mangoes are abundant in the Philippines, and it is no surprise that mango ice cream is a favorite among locals. It has a sweet and tangy flavor that is perfect for a hot summer day.
  • Cheese: Cheese ice cream may sound strange to some, but in the Philippines, it is a beloved flavor. It is often made with a combination of cheddar cheese and condensed milk, which gives it a sweet and salty flavor.

These flavors are a reflection of Filipino cuisine and culture, and they highlight the use of unique ingredients that are native to the Philippines.

What is the history of dirty ice cream in the Philippines?

Dirty ice cream has been a popular street food in the Philippines for many years. It is believed to have originated in the 1920s, during the American colonial period.

At the time, ice cream was a luxury item that was only available to the wealthy.

However, a man named Thomas Kramis saw an opportunity to make ice cream more accessible to the masses.

He developed a recipe for a cheaper, hand-churned ice cream made from coconut milk and sugar, and started selling it on the streets from a pushcart.

Since then, dirty ice cream has become a staple of Filipino street food culture.

Today, you can find it in almost every corner of the Philippines, from the busy streets of Manila to the remote provinces.

What are some other names for dirty ice cream in the Philippines?

Dirty ice cream may be known by different names in different parts of the country. Some of the other names for dirty ice cream in the Philippines include sorbetes, artisanal ice cream, and homemade ice cream.

Is dirty ice cream safe to eat?

Yes, dirty ice cream is generally considered safe to eat. However, since it is made and sold on the streets, it is important to be careful about where you buy it from.

Look for vendors who keep their carts clean and use proper food handling techniques to ensure that the ice cream is safe to eat.

How much does dirty ice cream cost in the Philippines?

The cost of dirty ice cream varies depending on the vendor and location. On average, a small cone or cup of dirty ice cream may cost around 10 to 20 Philippine pesos, while a larger serving may cost up to 50 pesos.


To sum it up, the story of dirty ice cream in the Philippines is a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage.

This humble street food, sold from old-fashioned carts and made with traditional techniques, has become an iconic part of Filipino cuisine.

From its unique name to its bold flavors and creamy texture, dirty ice cream embodies the Filipino spirit of ingenuity, creativity, and resourcefulness.

It’s no wonder why Filipinos and visitors alike can’t resist a scoop or two (or more) of this beloved treat.

So the next time you see a “dirty ice cream” cart in the streets of Manila, don’t hesitate to give it a try and experience the taste of Filipino culture.

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