November 01, 2011

For the Love of Ice Cream

"Life has become better, comrades; life has become more cheerful."

So proclaimed Stalin in 1935. As part of the push to make life more cheerful, items that had only recently been cast as bourgeois or decadent were reintroduced by the government. Formerly outlawed Christmas trees became New Year's trees, and the production of domestic champagne and chocolates went into high gear. Even the lowliest workers would have access to luxury goods! Although Soviet champagne and chocolates never reached the pinnacle of quality or taste, one product undeniably contributed to the betterment of Soviet life: ice cream.

In 1936 Anastas Mikoyan, the Minister of Foreign Trade, toured the United States, where he became enthralled with American ice-cream-making technology. Mikoyan saw an opportunity to overtake America in ice-cream production. Wasting no time, he imported the necessary equipment, and in 1937 the first Soviet ice cream factory opened. Mikoyan decreed that every Soviet citizen should eat no less than five kilos of ice cream a year. After all, ice cream was a healthy food, rich in calcium and calories.

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