The Hokey Pokey Man

Photo:This is where the Hokey Pokey Man used to stand

This is where the Hokey Pokey Man used to stand

Buying ice cream and frozen fruit juice in North Laine in the 1920s and 30s

By Ruby Dunn

Kensington Gardens - once memorable for ice cream

The first ice cream I ever tasted was over 80 years ago and my father bought it from the Hokey Pokey Man, a dark-haired Italian who used to stand beside a brightly painted handcart outside the public house at the north end of Kensington Gardens.  There was a paved courtyard outside the closed door, with a recess into which he fitted his handcart. He sold only one variety, in little cardboard cups. It was cream in colour and tasted rather like frozen custard.

We just licked it - there were no refinements such as spoons. I do not remember what we did with the empty cup. I just remember the coldness and the deliciousness of the experience on a hot summer's day. The ice cream cups were lifted out of the cold recesses of the square box, into which I would peer to see the lumps of ice. The Hokey Pokey Man had only a small stock because freezing-time must have been limited. He used to push the handcart away into some unknown back street to replenish the stock.

The 'Stop Me and Buy One' Man

In my memory the reign of the Hokey Pokey Man was short-lived and he was succeeded by the 'Stop Me and Buy One' man selling triangular sticks of frozen fruit juice (with a choice of flavours) for Eldorado Ices. He travelled around on his pedal bike and I presumed that his pedalling fired the dynamo which kept the cabinet refrigerated.

But cream ices persisted, with the Gizzi Brothers opening their first Ice Cream Parlour later on...

[Previously published in the 'North Laine Runner', no.181, July/August 2006]

This page was added on 20/11/2008.

My mum was brought up as a child in Fulham in the 1920s. She recalled that there was a "hokey pokey" man that called this out and served the most delicious spun sugar (brown candy floss) too.

By Rachelle Roberts
On 20/11/2008

What a concidence! I just stumbled across these lovely memories days after I released a novel (3rd July 2010 ) called 'The Hokey Pokey Man', inspired by my own Italian family heritage.

By Anita Arcari
On 06/07/2010

My wife's father told me that, as a boy in the 1920s, in the Rotherhithe area of SE London the children used to buy their "penny licks" from the Hokey Pokey man and he said that the children developed their own little song phrase using the following words:~ "Hokey Pokey penny a lump, the more you eat the more you jump ! "

By Chris Nelson
On 03/04/2013

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