What is Novelty Ice Cream?

Ice Cream Truck Selling Novelty Ice Cream

You’ll often find these desserts on ice cream trucks, at convenience/grocery stores, or at concession stands.

They provide a convenience factor because they are individually wrapped and can quickly be grabbed for a single-serving treat. There is no scooping out ice cream or looking for a bowl to put it in. Novelties are ready to enjoy straight from the packaging without hassle.

They are not made from a single type of ice cream. They can be made from vanilla, chocolate, or any other flavor. They might not even be made from ice cream at all but from sweetened flavored water like popsicles or other ingredients.

The popular kinds of ice cream novelties are ice cream sandwiches, bars, cones, character popsicles (i.e. Spiderman), and more.

Let’s take a look at some of the classic ice cream novelties to help illustrate what they are:


SpongeBob novelties are notorious for coming out a bit jacked up out their packaging. Let’s just say that the ice cream doesn’t often mimic the character printed on the packaging. In fact, it was a thing on social media to try to find the perfect the SpongeBob novelty ice cream with no deformities.


ChipWich and similar ice cream cookie sandwiches are classic novelties typically made with chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream. However, grocery stores often have other varieties such as mint chocolate chip and birthday cake flavors.

Strawberry Shortcake

Good Humor discontinued the Toasted Almond bar but we still have one of the all-time favorites, Strawberry Shortcake. These cake-coated bars are also available in Cookie & Creme, Chocolate Eclair, and Reese’s flavors.

Ice Cream Sandwich

An ice cream sandwich typically consists of a layer of ice cream sandwiched between two cookies or wafers. The cookies serve as the outer layers and provide a delicious and sturdy base to hold the ice cream. Most people are familiar with the vanilla variety but there are certainly a few other flavors of ice cream sandwiches that many people enjoy.

Bomb Pop

When the summer heat rolls in, one frozen treat stands out for its vibrant colors and refreshing taste is T he Bomb Pop. This iconic American dessert has been a favorite among both kids and adults for generations. The Original with the red, white, and blue colors consists of cherry, lime, and blue raspberry flavors.

What Were the First Ice Cream Novelties?

According to The Nibble, Eskimo Pies were the first ice cream novelties to hit the market. They were reportedly invented by a high school teacher/confectionery store owner named Christian Kent Nelson in Iowa in 1920.

Nelson came up with the idea for Eskimo Pies after he observed a kid in his store try to decide between a chocolate candy bar and ice cream. He thought, why not try to create a treat that was both?

Popsicles also first appeared in the early 1900s. They were accidentally invented by an 11-year-old in 1905 after he left his soda outside over night which froze with a stirring stick in it.

Popsicles weren’t commercially sold by Epperson until 1922. The first Popsicles were sold in California at the San Francisco Bay amusement park called Neptune Bay.

Why is it called novelty ice cream?

Novelty means “new” or “original” if you look up the definition. A theory is that novelties were new items on the market at the time so they were simply called novelty ice cream products to reflect their newness.

However, as Stack Exchange points out, the word “novelty” was used to describe a “useless but decorative or amusing object” in 1888, which is potentially how the ice cream got its name.

A publication of The National Druggist from 1916 refers to “ice cream novelty” potentially in connection to the 1888 meaning,

But the point remains that if a lady or a child would rather have an attractive ice cream novelty than the same quantity of cream served in a cone shaped mass it may be that there is an opportunity here to attract some business.

National Druggist, April 1916

If you reference the full section of the National Druggist text, it seems to use “novelty” in regard to appearance rather than newest. However, as with most things that are 100+ years old, it’s difficult to tell the original context or meaning.

Novelty Ice Cream Brands

Here are a selection of the top ice cream brands known for crafting novelties, along with a sampling of popular varieties produced:

  • Good Humor – Strawberry Shortcake, King Cone, Giant Vanilla Sandwich, Creamsicle.
  • Popsicle – Popsicle, Fudgsicle, Character Pops (SpongeBob, Spider-Man), Firecracker.
  • Nestle – Toll House Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, Drumstick, Push-Up, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Fudge Bars.
  • Haagen-Dazs – Various Bars & Cones.
  • Klondike – Various flavors of Bars, Cones, Sandwiches, and Shakes.
  • Hershey’s – Cones, Italian Ice, Ice Cream Bars, Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches.
  • Blue Bunny – Big Alaska Bar, Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches, Cones, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Character Ice Cream (Sonic, Batman, etc.).