It is a dessert known by many names – Halo-Halo in the Philippines, Ice Kachang in Singapore and Ais Kacang in Malaysia.
The shaved ice dessert is always a sought out item come summer. But have you ever wondered how ice first arrived in these Southeast Asian countries where there is no snow?
According to History, the first ice blocks arrived in Southeast Asia in the 1800s. These were imported from America and were cut out from frozen lakes. The Ice blocks were shipped to Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Australia every winter.
By the 1950s, refrigeration technology reached Southeast Asia. Ice then became easier to obtain.
But the shaved ice dessert has its own story.
As early as the 7th century AD, a shaved ice dessert was already being enjoyed in China. Called “Bao Bing” ice for the dessert is crushed using a large mallet or blade.
The dessert is also documented to have originated from Japan. During the Heian period in Japan (from 794 AD), ice was brought in from the mountains. Only the wealthy were able to afford it.
It is believed that Kakigori, the Japanese shaved ice dessert, was brought to the U.S. by Japanese immigrants when they went to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations in the late 1880s. The Japanese started opening small stores, many of which sold shaved ice desserts. It was a huge hit that this Asian dessert soon became iconic in Hawaii.
The shaved ice dessert continues to evolve with a restaurant in Hawaii even serving it with Red Bull. This is a testament that this cold dessert still has a long way to go in history books.