I scream, you scream, we all love…Ice cream!...

July 28th 2021

By Gez Straker, Remaking Beamish Community Participation Officer

…Or so I thought the chant went, triggered from the depths of my mind while sorting out frozen goodness-related activities for the summer. A quick online search reveals the phrase to actually be “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream”, with quite an interesting story to it too. But that’s not the point of this post and whether you’d scream for it or love it, or both, we’ve got ice cream-related fun this summer at Beamish.

On Fridays, from 11am-12.30pm and 2-4pm, at the 1950s welfare hall during the local school summer holidays, we are doing ice cream making. Have a go at making a small sample and find out what magic ingredient helps your mixture to freeze!

Or, whether you can visit the museum or not this summer, why not have a go at designing a sundae for John’s Café?

John’s Café, from Wingate, County Durham, is being recreated as part of Front Street terrace. The popular café was once owned by Giovanni Baptista Parisella, known locally as John. For more information on the exhibit please click here.

John in his café.

With the opening of the café getting closer and closer (due to open early in 2022), thought is going into the menu and food that you’ll be able to get when you visit, and we want your help to come up with a menu item!

Memories from John’s include hot vimto, oxtail soup with crisps on top and toasties. Businesses run by Italian families such as John’s are often remembered fondly for their ice cream too. Chatting to people across the North East about John’s Café will often lead to memories of a local ice cream parlour or café. From Minchella’s in South Shields to Mark Toney’s in Newcastle to Rea’s in Middlesbrough, people speak warmly of visits with friends or family.

So with the sun shining and the summer holidays ahead we wanted to get people involved in thinking about ice cream and help us decide a scrumptious sundae that will be on the menu of John’s when it opens.

The array of delicious ice cream flavours you can find today means we’d be spoilt for choice if we were opening John’s as a modern café. But the 50s saw a much more limited, but still tasty, choice. It seems vanilla ice cream remained the most popular throughout the decade. Although other basic flavours were sometimes tried, the majority of memories about what was served in cafés was that of vanilla, the recipes for which were often passed down through families. In John’s we’ll have an Edoni ice cream maker in the window so you can see the vanilla ice cream being made. What we do with it then is partially up to you!

We want people to come up with some creative and fun sundae suggestions for John’s Café. The catch being that it can only use vanilla ice cream and can only be accompanied by toppings that were available in the 1950s or earlier!

So, as well as conducting important “research” by eating a lot of ice cream this summer, we’d love for you to have a think and come up with a sundae inspired by Beamish or the 1950s. You can be as creative as you like with its name, what it should look like and what goes in it (as long as it only uses vanilla ice cream with ingredients from the 1950s or earlier). You can send us a description, draw a picture or make it and send us a photo.

If you’re stuck about what to use then why not do a little research or ask a family member what sweets or ingredients were available in the 1950s (or before), or take a look inside the Beamish sweet shop or Co-op for ideas? Perhaps it will have fresh fruit on top, or be sprinkled with crushed nuts, maybe you could make it look like a smiley face with sweets from the sweet shop?

The closing date for suggestions is Tuesday, 31st August 2021. All entries will be looked at by a member of John’s family and some ice cream-loving Beamish staff to create a shortlist, and Beamish visitors will be able to vote for their favourite online and at the museum. The overall successful sundae will be sold in John’s Café in 2022 when the exhibit opens!

For more information about the Design a Sundae activity please click here. For full terms and conditions please click here.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with, because, at the end of the day, I scream, you scream, we all love ice cream!

Front Street terrace, which is due to open to visitors in early 2022, will also include a hairdresser’s, fish and chip shop and the recreated home of artist Norman Cornish. For more information on 1950s Town exhibits, click here.