Thank Margaret Thatcher for soft-serve ice cream?

Margaret Thatcher studied chemistry at Oxford and was a food research scientist before pursuing a legal career.
(Chris Ware / AFP/Getty Images)

What does Margaret Thatcher have to do with Mr. Whippy ice cream cones? Among the accomplishments of the former British prime minister, who died today at age 87, might have been her contribution to the development of soft-serve ice cream.

It’s a popular dig among some circles of the British left: Thatcher helped invent soft-serve ice cream -- adding air, lowering quality and raising profits -- Thatcherite politics in a cone.

Though how directly she was involved in the making of soft-serve hasn’t been detailed, Thatcher had an Oxford chemistry degree and was a research scientist at London food company J. Lyons & Co. in the ‘40s before deciding to pursue a legal career.


At the time, Lyons developed a technique of doubling the amount of air in ice cream that could be made by pushing it through a machine. The British call it “soft scoop,” and it would help usher in Mr. Whippy ice cream vans and the “99” cone -- a soft-serve ice cream cone with a Cadbury flake chocolate bar inserted in it.


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