For some, gelato is perhaps one of the world’s best desserts. While you can now have gelato incorporated into events with ice cream catering, it was once much more difficult for people to get their hands on this sweet treat outside of Italy. Even if it has become more accessible across the world, gelato is still very much an Italian dessert. Still, the average American does eat about 23 pounds of ice cream and other frozen desserts throughout the year, so it’s no surprise that plenty of them want to know more about gelato. With that being said, let’s delve into a quick review of gelato.

How Did It Start?

You’ll notice that although gelato looks a lot like ice cream, it’s quite a different product. Originally, Bernardo Buontalenti created what was considered the forerunner to gelato, which wasn’t exactly the same thing as what we eat now. Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli is believed to be the man we can thank for modern gelato, though he wasn’t exactly a modern man himself. Coltelli actually opened up what would be the first gelato shop in the late seventeenth century. Though an Italian himself, Coltelli was working in Paris at the time, and his gelato was so popular that he gained French citizenship through it. Cotelli was also given royal license by Louis XIV, which meant that he was the only person authorized to create gelato in the entire kingdom. Cafe Procope, where Coltelli produced his gelato, still exists today.

How Did Gelato Evolve?

As time went on, gelato became popular throughout Europe. In the early twentieth century, different developments made it easier to produce. The Montogelateria was the first machine that was able to produce gelato automatically, while the batch freezer made it easier for gelato to be stored. Gradually, mass-produced gelato has become more popular. Italy is now the only country in the world where the market share of artisanal gelato is over 55%.

What Is Gelato Like Today?

Legitimate gelato today should have a texture that is more dense than ice cream. Air is whipped into ice cream, while gelato should only contain around 33% air, providing less “filler” and more flavor. Although there are now many flavors, the most traditional flavors include vanilla, hazelnut, pistachio, stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate chunks), almond, chocolate, and cream. If you love gelato, you can have it anyway – just try to remember its rich (literally) history!