Ice cream novelties include small or portable pre-packaged ice cream treats, including popsicles and bars, cones, and sandwiches, among others. The treats vary widely in ingredients and flavors and are typically available at supermarkets, convenience stores, ice cream trucks, and snack bars. These sweets were deemed as novel, or new, because they were the first pre-made ice cream desserts available when they appeared in the early 20th century. The ingredients used to make them have evolved over time, and do vary depending upon the style of treat being made.
The first ice cream novelties appeared as popsicles and ice cream bars during the 1920s, with their predecessors being frozen fruit and ice bars present during the 1800s, often sold by Italian-Americans. Frank Epperson is credited with first mass marketing the popsicle in the early 1920s. Popsicles typically come in fruity flavors, with some popsicles being made with pure fruit juice and others containing added sugar and artificial flavors. Sugar-free and low-calorie popsicles are available, as are frozen yogurt bars, made from low-fat or no-fat yogurt instead of cream and milk.
Ice cream novelties called ice cream cones are served in a portable, edible sheet of baked dough rolled into a cone shape. Cones are typically made from a crispy, baked sugar dough or waffle cone, but early cones were sometimes made from paper or metal. The International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers states that the first true ice cream cone appeared at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, when Ernest Hamwi and Arnold Fomachou coupled ice cream and wafer pastries. Cones sold in stores in the 21st century offer a wide variety of ice cream flavors and extras like chocolate-coated cones.
Ice cream sandwiches come in a wide variety of flavors and ingredients, with traditional sandwiches featuring a vanilla cream center with two soft chocolate cake-like slices holding it together. Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches, which include three layers of ice cream — chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla — are also common. The sandwich originated from 19th-century Victoria's Sandwich, a British pastry made with cake and alternating layers of cream or fruit. The earliest evidence of ice cream sandwiches dates to the late 1920s. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, sandwich cake ingredients expanded to include name-brand cookies as well.
The ingredients in ice cream novelties vary widely and depend on the item's quality, and typically, price. Cheaper brands may contain more emulsifying agents and reduced milk solids. High-quality novelties will have a high butterfat content and typically natural ingredients like eggs and sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and a high proportion of emulsifying agents. Ice cream novelties with a dense consistency typically have a creamier texture as well. Fruit-based novelties with higher fruit juice content are also considered to be of a higher quality.