Coconut Ice – A Traditional Post-War British Gem

Mar 2


Lisa Jeeves

Lisa Jeeves

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Coconut ice is a sweet, soft and chewy traditional British treat. It dates back to the end of WWII when sugar was finally made accessible again.


Coconut ice may seem a simple treat,Coconut Ice – A Traditional Post-War British Gem Articles but it is a delightfully soft and chewy confection that has an intriguing history.

The alluring two-tone pink and white slabs of heavenly goodness are made by adding grated coconut to condensed milk and icing sugar. Half of the mixture is then spread evenly in a baking tin and food colouring (usually pink) is added to the other half. This mixture is then layered over the top of the white layer and it is placed in the refrigerator. Alternatively, grated coconut is added to boiled sugar syrup, but this version is not as common anymore due to its short shelf life and the fact that it sometimes dries out.

A Traditional Homemade Candy

As such a simple recipe, it should not come as too much of a surprise to hear that it was an easy homemade solution to satisfying a sweet tooth – but its origins date back to the end of the Second World War. This ensures that it is seen as a traditional British candy that is adored by many.

Celebrating the End of WWII with Sugary Goodness

Due to enemy ships targeting UK imports during the war, national rationing started in 1942 and lasted right through to 1953 (for confectionery and sugar). This resulted in a shortage of eggs, sugar and butter, as well as sweets. Homeowners were forced to satisfy their cravings by getting creative in the kitchen; this saw the revival of the carrot cake and similar vegetable and fruit based cakes.

After rationing ended in 1954 sugar was easily accessible again, which was – understandably – a cause for celebration. People continued this creativity in the home with the newly available ingredients, seeing the clever invention of coconut ice. The reasoning behind the word “ice” is unknown, but most agree that it is due to the coloration. As a result, this confection is seen as a celebration of the end of the Second World War.

Expanding Overseas

It may have humble origins in English kitchens, but coconut ice is now a popular treat in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Those with a sweet tooth who have travelled to the United States will have noticed the similarities with the popular Neapolitan Coconut product – this is a very similar confection that adds a third layer of chocolate (this is, unsurprisingly, extremely tasty!).

Stock Up Today

Coconut ice is often still made in the home, but it is also produced by many major confectioners. We carry a wide selection of tantalising types at hf Chocolates, including beautiful pre-cut slabs which were handmade in traditional copper pans. Popular confectioner Sweet Boutique is somewhat of an expert when it comes to this wonderful snack – we carry their very tempting handmade bars and retro striped bags. The latter contains a selection of beautiful handmade cubes all within an attractive bag – these are sure to stand out on any shop floor.