1960 – horizontal batch freezers: convenience and security in the vocabulary of gelato

From liquid to solid: a daily miracle

The role of the batch freezer in the production of artisanal gelato of Italian tradition has been widely described, just as its evolution. A significant transformation takes place in the 60s within the cylinder containing the mixture to be frozen (the “sorbet-maker”), which is extended and is moved from a vertical to a horizontal position; the control of the consistency of gelato becomes automatic and the use of stainless steel affects many parts of the machinery. The changes are radical and, for artisanal gelato makers, they represent a simplification of the production process, of maintenance and cleaning and therefore greater guarantees in terms of sanitation.

 

The consumption of gelato and the artisanal gelato shops

With time and thanks to multiple factors, the gelato – from luxury product intended for a few, privileged people – became a product for everyone. However, only in the last decades of the Twentieth century it became a mass phenomenon in Italy. In the early 50s the annual consumption of gelato was estimated around 250 grams per capita; gelato was still considered a luxury item. 51% of Italians worked in agriculture, 27% in industry, 11% in trade, 5.5% in public administration and 4% in transportation. Gelato shops were about 3,000. At the end of the 80s coffee shops were 25,000 with 100,000 operators; gelato was no longer a luxury item but started being considered, by leading nutritionists, as one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods. It was estimated that, roughly, Italians would eat 10 kilograms of gelato per capita each year.

 

From wells to shop windows: appearance is important, too

The transition from “wells” to shop windows was one of the most important in the history of artisanal gelato of Italian tradition. It happened when the artisanal gelato shops were living a moment of expansion, even abroad, and the desire of showing their own products responded to the request of an evolving market which wanted to see something before buying it. Shop windows were the answer: the operators could take the gelato out of the well, showing it and turning the shop window into the first moment of offer for customers and potential customers.