The Third Narrative of Ice Cream.
A different way ahead !
Over the past few years on the Giapo blog, I have spoken about American ice cream, and Italian gelato, and what we describe as the first and second narratives of ice cream (as they made ice cream the most popular dessert in the world). Today, I want to talk about what we do at giapo and what we consider to be the ‘Third Narrative of ice cream’, and how Giapo ended up here.
Since Giapo’s inception, we have believed in creating something different; opposing what is seen as normal. For 12 years ( 2018) we have worked hard to reinvent what is known as ‘ice cream’ in hopes of changing your world for the better and helping you experience ice cream like never before. We know that you get bored with normal ice cream, it is uninspiring at best and that’s why Giapo was born – we understood your pain (which was also our pain) and said, what if we apply ingenuity and imagination to break tradition and reject monotony? Can we offer a new narrative of ice cream? Are the flavours, ingredients and the different ways to make ice cream ( American and Italian for example), the only ways to change the most popular dessert in the world? We did not think so. And we start looking in a different direction.
What makes the third narrative for ice cream so different?
Our dream, since the giapo inception, was always that New Zealand would become famous for its special ice cream, a new ice cream, a different kind of ice cream.
Like I said before, in the beginning, the idea of changing ice cream was in the back of my and Annarosa’s minds – but, at first, we lacked clarity on how that change could unfold. That meant our creations weren’t as focused and intentional as they could have been, and we would fall into changing flavours most of the time. We finally found clarity in what we wanted to do, which was challenging normality, using the process of elimination, and making some terrifying business decisions. To work out what we wanted to do, we worked backwards and removed all the things we were doing that were not true to the purpose of helping you move away from boring ice cream. Only with this clarity could we show others what it was we were trying to achieve.
Our commitment to change ice cream came with a lot of negative thoughts and fears. I still fight these thoughts daily. Fighting the conventional beliefs of how things should be done is something that many of us struggle with on a daily basis. Understanding the status quo, and running in the complete opposite direction is what we are talking about.
My ultimate wish is to see you (customers) being motivated to challenge the status quo and to break tradition in your own world. Even if we can just plant the seed in your mind, our mission will be fulfilled.
I know that ice cream has been dull for years, and if you are here, it is because you are looking for something extraordinary, new, and authentic – but ice cream did not quite offer that opportunity yet.
Some context of our history
To give you some context and history about Giapo, it all started 14 years ago ( at the time of writing this post) when my wife Annarosa and I opened up our store on Queen Street. Before this, we had opened a patisserie shop which lasted a grand duration of three months. That patisserie remained shut until we had changed its nature entirely. When this didn’t work out, we went back to the drawing board, and really got to the core of why we were doing what we were doing. The answer was simple: we wanted to create art that transcended the traditional beliefs and concepts of dessert and ice cream – and alas, Giapo was born. We went from being a patisserie to being an ice cream lab, in the most bootstrapped manner, self-financing most of it with credit cards and family backed loans.
12 years later, we still feel we are a start-up. Lots of things have changed, and we hope some things will never change as we still want to grow, take more risks and keep innovating perpetuity.
When Giapo was born, we believed ice cream was our canvas and little by little, through the sparks of a new feared vision, trust, creativity, and belief in our minds, we knew we were creating something completely new and never done before. What kept us going? You. You have been embracing the change and the innovation we brought you as your own, making Giapo part of your life.
Changing ice cream
After studying the status quo of the ice cream world (what we call the first and second narrative) we realised that what everyone else was focusing on, as far as innovation is concerned, was changing flavours, ingredients and methods of churning.
The question that we asked ourselves was, can we innovate ice cream without thinking about ingredients, flavours, and churning methods? Can it be less boring? What does ice cream have the potential to become? What can people do with the ice cream instead of just licking? Can it be more meaningful?
That’s when we started looking at the function of ice cream, rather than just the flavours. This starts with seeing ice cream as something that isn’t just-food. It starts by making a commitment to the vision that what we do had to transcend what is traditionally known as ice cream – because we know you don’t want to order and eat the same ice cream you have had 100 times before. No matter what the brand is, despite the fact that they are all delicious, we believed normal ice cream was boring and it had to become something else because you wanted it. With this in mind, we turned to our two most important ingredients:
Ingenuity and imagination and we found they change ice cream when:
- They offer a new way to consume it that isn’t just a normal cone, cup, or tub.
- They offer a different function than just simply eat it from the get-go.
- They express something that transcends food.
By changing the most essential characteristics of ice cream to alter its function, we took a leap of faith and thought we would make it less boring, hoping that you would like it. Thankfully, you loved it. And so a new narrative of ice cream was born.
Holding things a different way
For example, our Wearable Cones were something my wife Annarosa dreamed up to try and distance ourselves from traditional ice cream holders – like a cone or a cup. It was one of our first attempts to get people to do something with their ice cream first, rather than just eating it straight away. They are mini puppets for some, rings for others, or funny finger foods to serve at your party (to get both adults and kids engaged).
Our Wearable Ice Cream Cones work to change ice cream’s function by making it an accessory to wear! You may even see it as a puppet to play with. They are edible, wearable, enjoyable, and they redefine the possibilities of what ice cream can be. We use our ice cream to exemplify the fact that you can create something new and unique by breaking traditions and challenging what is seen as normal.
Our options came about in a similar fashion because we wanted to alter the way you can hold and consume ice cream. With our Yorkshire Pudding and Māori fried bread (Paraoa Parai), we interlace the sweetness of the cold dessert with the savoury origins of these two cultural dishes.
Something to not just to eat from the get-go
Another one of our goals is to create ice cream that our customers don’t just eat from the get-go. Why? Because that’s a boring tradition. We reject the idea that you shouldn’t play with your food. Giapo transcends food – it can even become a table game. The photo below is one of our Easter creations ‘Tū Kōhatu‘. The aim of the game, based on the traditional Māori stacking stone game, is to build a tower as high as you can. This was one of the ways we experimented with food to make sure it wasn’t just seen as something to eat immediately.
The Selfie Cone is the one creation I will always keep close to my heart. Because it was the first game changer we served you many many years ago, and it has been a huge success. It proved that everyone who was buying an ice cream from us wasn’t interested in just eating from the get go, but were actually spending 30 minutes without licking or even touching it the ice cream creation.. they were taking photos of themselves instead. When we first launched the Selfie Cone, we received quite a negative backlash on Facebook, because many people did not understand what we were trying to do. Now, everyone gets it. Its frame means the dessert turns into something you will take a photo with first, and then start eating it second. The ice cream itself was actually secondary to what people bought. The function of ice cream had then been changed.
Annarosa and I went to art school in Italy back in the day. Sculptures were our favourite things to create and admire. When we were informed the famous Colossal Squid at Te Papa museum was 10 years old- we felt compelled to do something special about it.
Why eat your ice cream straight away when you can look at and admire its monstrosity?
Our menu is ever changing
In honour of the royal visit to New Zealand in 2018, we combined ice cream with a traditional Kiwi pavlova crown on top of two cones joined together – just like the matrimony of Harry and Meghan. This came out as a Royal Pavlova. It was the first time we experimented with twin cones as another attempt to move away from a standard waffle cone. We use melted chocolate to join two cones together to represent the Duke and Duchess of Sussex coming together to Auckland and New Zealand. We were hoping to create something that wasn’t quite just food, but a representation and memento of the love of two people, and their tour to New Zealand!
Every Christmas season, we like to create unique Christmas treats, as a gift from us to you. In 2018, we created Christmas Bells and Mince Pie ice creams, and in 2019 we created Christmas Crackers and Baubles. Again, we were trying to come up with a different way of holding and interacting with ice cream. For our Christmas Bells, it’s safe to say our front-of-house staff heard a lot of ringing bells when these came out. The Cracker, on the other hand, took a bit of work in terms of balancing the cones and chocolate, and ensuring it all stayed even and stuck together.
The Giapo x Cattelan “THIS IS NOT AN ICE CREAM” creation was inspired by the artist Maurizio Cattelan, who shocked the world in December 2019 when his art piece – named “The Comedian”, was sold during the Miami Art Basel 2019, for $120,000. The interesting part, which took many people around the world by surprise, was that the art piece was simply a banana stuck to the wall with a piece of duct tape. This creation represented freedom, and that anything can be perceived as art. The fact that art can evoke a response within people is a great sign – it’s amazing whether this is positive or negative – and it constantly amazes me how polarising art is.
This is why I decided to cover Cattelan, and highlight that the art is in the freedom the artist took to create such a piece. This creation is not only a tribute to Cattelan, but it’s a tribute to art and freedom – from one artist to another. We like to call our version of it “This is not an ice cream.”
Due to the criticism the ‘Comedian’ received, we worried that our tribute would receive the same feedback. The ‘Comedian’ evoked happiness, rage, confusion, freedom, cheer, and many more emotions throughout the world. Our limited edition ‘Comedian’ tribute was only available to the first 200 people who could grab it for free, however the certificate of authenticity was $9.50.
We really aimed to question normality with this one – the King of Cones (most likely the biggest ice cream cone you’ll ever see). The 75 cm long cone is made out of pastry, is filled all the way to the top with our delicious ice cream, and is topped off with some extra goodies. This one is our biggest creation yet (not for the faint hearted) and exemplifies what we believe to be the third narrative of ice cream. You wouldn’t traditionally see American ice cream or Italian gelato in a near-meter long cone, and so this triumphant cone is changing the way people eat ice cream.
Keep Moving Forward
We accept and appreciate that every day can bring something new and unexpected into our lives. I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year that no one expected. A worldwide pandemic has meant that international borders all around the world closed, and even here in New Zealand, we were put on a nationwide lockdown for 4 weeks between March and April. The unprecedented nature of this obviously caused some anxiousness and unease, but we couldn’t let that stop us from doing what we do at Giapo. As I always say, we are ever-changing and evolving. We don’t have another choice, but, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because of the unprecedented nature of 2020, we have been able to work even harder in the Giapo kitchen to make new and innovative ice cream creations. One of the first creations we created post-lockdown was the #makeicecreamyourtarget.
As you probably know, over the last few months there have been ongoing protests in the United States. These protests have been to fight prejudice and racism, which were initiated after the unjustified killing of George Floyd. In response to this, we created this ice cream creation, which symbolises our condemnation of prejudice against anyone, for whatever reason. Here at Giapo, we have always been firm believers that all people are equal, and equally worthy of fairness and justice in this world.
#makeicecreamyourtarget is a homemade waffle cone topped with a chocolate disk-shaped target. This creation has allowed us, as well as our customers, to push this notion out into the world. All the money earned from this creation will be donated to George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna.
As I said before, we have been working very hard behind the scenes. Our goal is to constantly push the boundaries, and try out things that may have never been tried before. This was the case with our Apple Pie Cone – our take on the traditional dessert that is loved around the world. This creation took quite a bit of trial and error, simply because mixing hot and cold elements is tricky (as well as dealing with gravity). Eventually we were able to bring our creation to life – thankfully! The end result is the ice cream flavour of your choice atop a crunchy home-made waffle, then covered in shortbread crumble, and topped with a whole apple filled with ice cream.
What should you take from this?
I hope that our journey – that has been filled with many failures, fears, trials and tribulations – will inspire and encourage you to reject rationality and normality in your own life. It took time to be accepted, and it took time to be understood but in the end, it was worth it.
You can create or do anything in this world. You can water a tiny seed in your mind to produce something tangible in your hands. There are no rules that dictate what you can or cannot do.
I’m encouraging you to start your journey of breaking tradition.
Ingenuity and imagination are the two most important ingredients in our kitchen and the main pillars of what we now call the third narrative of ice cream.
If ice cream can change, anything can change.
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