Last Updated: August 19, 2019
I remember every day after school, I would look forward to the dismissal bell so that I can get some ice cream or an ice pop on a hot day.
Growing up, I’ve always been curious about where they get their stock from. Recently, I chanced upon a video about a supplier so I decided to pay them a visit.
Previously located at Changi Road, Chip Guan Heng now resides along Joo Chiat Place. They are a long-time supplier for the ice cream cart uncles and aunties.
While interviewing the father-and-son duo, Mr Goh Soo Khin (right) and Mr Kenneth Goh (left), who are also the owners of Chip Guan Heng, I found out that there are more than 40 years of history behind this supply store.
Chip Guan Heng was first established by Mr Kenneth’s grandfather in 1970. It started out as a provision shop, which then evolved into an ice cream business.
Their day starts as early as 6am because that’s when some of the vendors would come by to get their supplies such as ice cream and dry ice amongst other things.
These ice cream cart uncles and aunties are licensed to sell their ice cream on the streets. The older vendors have the privilege of owning an island-wide license which allows them to roam about the streets of Singapore, even Orchard and Bugis where business usually blooms due to the high traffic.
However, the younger vendors are only equipped with a localised license to sell within the neighbourhood where they stay.
Even though the main bulk of their business is supplying the goods that ice cream cart uncles and aunties need, the public is also welcome to buy from them.
However, if you’re ever planning to visit, try to visit after 7am. It’s pretty chaotic in the morning, with vendors trying to stock up their goods.
Looking at all the traditional ice cream flavours in their boxes really brought me back to the good old days.
The traditional flavours include Chocolate and Chocolate Chip, which I’m sure most of us remember. But the more popular flavours are Raspberry Ripple and Peppermint Chocolate Chip, which make for a refreshing treat in Singapore’s heat.
Other than ice cream, they also provide other supplies that ice cream vendors need such as dry ice, bread, wafer biscuits, cups and spoons.
Unlike the past where we had only a few selections of ice cream flavours, Chip Guan Heng has moved with the times and brought in newer flavours like the Gula Melaka Potong Ice Cream.
Another treat that you wouldn’t have had 10 years ago is the Binggrae Ice Cream. This Korean fish-shaped pastry is packaged individually and contains ice cream and red bean paste.
With how hot Singapore’s weather can get, the ice cream vendors definitely need to get dry ice from Chip Guan Heng to prevent the ice cream from melting. Vendors will notify Chip Guan Heng beforehand so that Mr Kenneth and the staff can pack and prepare their orders.
For the vendors who order loose items, they can help themselves to it in the chiller outside. However, if they order in bulk, the stock is kept separately in the cold room where temperatures are kept at a constant -18ºC.
The stocks are arranged in a systematic manner, so what goes in first, comes out first. This way, when the goods are sold, the older ones will go out first. This is to maintain the freshness of the products and to make sure that they don’t make a loss by throwing out expired products.
Mr Kenneth has been helping his father manage the family business ever since his father had surgery. When I asked Mr Goh why he didn’t want to leave the business entirely to his son and enjoy his retirement, he responded that Mr Kenneth is still ‘learning the ropes’ as he had only started to help out about two years ago.
This ice cream business used to focus only on being a supplier and selling ice cream. But as times change, that way of life isn’t sustainable for Mr Kenneth and his father. Therefore, when Mr Kenneth took over the operational plans, he decided to branch out and take the business to greater heights.
Their main bulk of customers are the ice cream cart vendors as well as gelato shops. In recent times, they’ve extended their reach to working for events and have also offered catering services. For corporate events, they will have workers to load up the truck to deliver the pushcart to the event venue.
The organization has to inform them of quantity needed and the time of the event. Mr Kenneth will have to plan so that there is enough manpower to support the event, and his workers have to go down to the event to distribute the ice cream.
Even though Chip Guan Heng has withstood the test of time by anticipating change and staying relevant, they are always looking for new ways to improve themselves. Ice cream carts are a significant part of Singaporean culture and it’d honestly be such a waste to let this tradition die out.
In hopes to carry on the legacy, Mr Kenneth and his father hope that Singaporeans will continue to support more local ice cream cart uncles and aunties so that the heritage of this lifestyle would be preserved.
Chip Guan Heng
69 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427787
69 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427787