A Short Guide to Italy’s Most Iconic Industrial Ice Creams

| Thu, 08/19/2021 - 01:00
Cornetto ice cream commercial

It may sound like blasphemy in a country celebrated for its artisanal gelato, but sometimes you may find yourself in a city or beach bar with only the commercial ice creams to choose from. Besides the fact that some are just plain good, industrial ice creams were, for many years, especially 20 to 30 years ago, undisputed protagonists of the summer holidays. Eating an ice cream was synonymous with spending time with friends, carefree, in the piazzas, in the streets and on the beach. Some ice creams have actually reached iconic status, especially for those who grew up in Italy in the 1980s and ‘90s. Here are some all-time favorites. 


Since it was invented in 1959, the Cornetto has never gone out of style. A ‘heart of cream’ inside a a wafer cone with a topping of chocolate and hazelnuts, the Cornetto began as an artisanal ice cream patented by Spica, an ice cream maker from Naples. It acquired great popularity after it was bought by the multinational Unilever in 1976, which made it an icon in Italy under the brand Algida thanks to advertising, especially with its reference to summer flirts on the beach and the gelato’s ‘cuore di panna’. 

The Cornetto by Algida became so popular that cornetto has become a generic name to indicate any type of industrial ice cream cone of any brand. Over the years, Unilever has introduced various versions of the Cornetto. 


According to history, this is the first industrialized ice cream ever created in Italy. It was invented in 1948 by Angelo Motta, who first started with a small artisanal bakery in Milan to create a pastry empire, especially thanks to Panettone. With his Mottarello, he created a sensation. It’s panna (cream) ice cream covered in chocolate on a wooden stick. Its name changes according to the brand who makes it so you can also find Cremino by Algida.

Coppa del Nonno

The ‘grandfather’s cup’ - coffee ice cream in a brown cup with a handle that resembles a coffee cup - has been produced in Italy since 1955 and is among the best-selling industrial ice creams in Italy. Its recipe has remained practically unchanged through the years: an infusion of coffee, then milk, cream and butter.


Maxibon is a type of ice cream sandwich produced by Motta in 1989.  It came to prominence in the 1990s, especially after the Italian actor Stefano Accorsi was hired for a famous TV commercial, with the slogan ‘Du gust is megl che uan,’ two flavors are better than one. It basically consists of panna ice cream flavored with small pieces of chocolate, coated with a solid layer of cocoa cream with hazelnut fragments on one side and enclosed between two slices of soft biscuit dough on the other. Don’t you start salivating just reading about the description? 


Created in the 1980s, it was a favorite of every child, and synonymous with summer. The Calippo is a cylindrical-shaped icicle, contained in a casing which, once pressed in its lower part, makes the icicle pop out of an upper opening. Once you get to the bottom, the icicle has probably melted and you get to drink the juicy sugary syrup, which can be flavored as lemon, cola, strawberry, orange and tropical fruit. Avoid if you’re a granita fan.