There’s something strange and special about ice cream in Cuba. Despite food shortages, rationing, and a decades-long trade embargo, ice cream has managed to persevere. Have you ever wondered why this passion for ice cream? Yes, we know, that taste! It would probably be enough to explain such a profound relationship, right? But there’s more to it…

It all goes down to politics

It is well known that back in 1962, the US president Kennedy bought 1200 Cuban cigars just hours before extending the trade embargo to consumer goods. Less famous is the fact that the Cuban leader had his own shipment of forbidden treats: Castro had his ambassador to Canada send him 28 containers of ice cream from Howard Johnson’s, the largest restaurant chain in the US at that moment. It seems that Castro had a sweet tooth, the novelist Gabriel García Márquez, a close friend of his, recalled in a biographical essay that the Cuban leader once finished off a lunch with 18 scoops of ice cream.

Coppelia, an ice cream icon

Next step? Castro specifically ordered the construction of Coppelia. By 1966, Coppelia was open and equipped to hold 1,000 people at once with a menu of 26 flavors. Havana’s celebrated ice-cream parlor, housed in a flying-saucer-like structure in a Vedado park, is celebrated as much for its queues as for its ice cream, gathering both locals and tourists. Insanely popular since it opened, this state-run institution is about far more than mere ice cream.

What’s the best flavor?

We don’t dare to choose one, but according to, mango, coconut, fruta bomba, mamey, guava, and pineapple are the most popular. And since we’re talking about flavors and statistics, they say that the usual order is 3 ensaladas. Sounds about right… So let’s think of an ideal combo and since we can’t fly back home right this instant, we can always look for the closest Cuban ice cream parlor…