Eis Life: for the love of ice cream
I moved from England to Berlin in summer 2012 for a job at SoundCloud. On one of my first weekends in the city, I arranged to meet a fellow expat, Abby, for a day trip on our bikes to Potsdam. She brought some friends along and we all ended up getting ice cream during the day. Friendships blossomed as we continued meeting over the following months — but more importantly, they blossomed around the ritual of exploring Berlin’s best gelaterias with my new Freunde.
I soon learned that the German for ice cream is eis (pronounced ‘ice’). Eis became one of the twenty-ish words that comprised my German vocabulary, but it also became the way that I logged my ice cream eating on Instagram via the hashtag #eislife, a Deutschglish version of #icecreamlife. Soon, it replaced the default of meeting for a beer or coffee, and instead I’d invite people to meet for eis. The ritual was helped along by Berlin’s scorching summers and proliferation of exceptional, reasonably-priced eis outlets. But even when the temperatures dropped and some of the eis shops boarded up for winter, the #eislife continued.
You could say I had a revelation: I loved ice cream and I could eat it as much as I wanted because I’m an adult and I make my own decisions. And it was easy to do; in Berlin, you’re never far from a quality eis outlet. When the SoundCloud office was based near Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, I got my fix at Cuore di Vetro or Eismanufaktur. Occasionally I’d switch it up with froyo from Efa’s Frozen Yoghurt. When the office moved, Rosa Canina provided all my eis needs just down the road. I’d go with colleagues, I’d go on my own, and when friends came to town, it’d be the perfect excuse to take them on an ice cream-themed tour of the city, starting with Hokey Pokey, just ten minutes’ walk from my haus.
I’ve since left Berlin, but I’ve continued to log my ice cream eating around the world — Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Iceland, Japan, Poland, Sweden — with the #eislife hashtag. While some people try to find the best coffee outlets or craft beer bars when they arrive in a new place, I dial up Foursquare and search ‘ice cream.’ When I returned to London last year, I got an Eis Life tattoo to commemorate two and a half glorious eis-eating years in Berlin.
It was on holiday in Iceland in December that I had the idea to make take my love of Eis Life to a new level. I’d bought a two-scoop delight from Valdís and was holding it in gloved hands as I walked along Reykjavík’s snow- and ice-covered streets when I realised how deep the ice cream love goes. Icelanders never have the luxury of hot summers, yet their passion for ice cream remains strong; I’d had to queue in the shop, despite sub-zero temperatures outside. Here we all were, enjoying a delicious ice cream in the freezing cold.
I know I’m not alone in this. And now, I want to use Eis Life to help other eis lovers share their love of ice cream with the world. I dream of “let’s get an ice cream” entering the vernacular in the same way as “let’s grab a beer” or “let’s do coffee.” Ice cream isn’t an occasional treat — it’s an everyday staple. You could say it’s a way of life. I want to create resources for ice cream lovers to find out about the best eis in their area and the places they travel to; to share tips and recipes for making eis at home; to find fellow eis lovers who they can share their love of eis with.
With that in mind, I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to print a limited run of Eis Life clothing — t-shirts and sweatshirts — with the strap line “It’s never too cold”. Because it isn’t. The aim is to galvanise eis lovers to join together and declare their affection to the world. To stand tall in the face of criticism from friends and family who say that winter is no time for ice cream. To say “heck no!” and keep on licking — come rain, shine or freezing temperatures that chill you to the bone.
We’re starting with t-shirts but Eis Life will become more than a clothing company. We want to create resources for a global community of ice cream lovers to find out about the best eis in their area and the places they travel to; to share tips and recipes for making eis at home; to find fellow eis lovers who they can share their love of eis with. People will recognise us by our numb tongues, sticky hands — and, of course, exceptional t-shirts.
So I’m asking you, dear readers — if your love of eis is honest and true — to support the project and show your allegiance by buying a tee or sweatshirt, and spreading the word to your friends, followers, devotees.
Together, we can make Eis Life a reality.