THERE’S ice cream and then, of course, there’s Rossi’s ice cream!

Southend’s dessert dynamos have been whisking up mouth-watering iced treats since 1932 and haven’t looked back since.

The sweet secret to Rossi’s success stems from its traditional Italian recipe of ice cream churned from fresh milk, butter and double cream.

Today the business is hailed as an Essex institution.

Homegrown pop superstar Alison Moyet calls it ‘the taste of home’ while celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has admitted his perfect seaside day out would be “fish and chips and a Rossi ice cream.”

Of course Rossi, with its variety of lip-smacking dessert flavours which range from classic vanilla (where it all began) to Rum and Raisin, Rhubarb and Custard, Bubblegum Blue to ‘Birthday Cake’ and even ‘Candy Crush’ varieties has become famous all over the globe – but it all started right here in Southend.

Their first ice cream parlour and factory was launched in 1932, at number 37 High Street in Southend.

The parlour was opened by Massimiliano Agostino Rossi (also known as Gus) with his wife Anna.

Rossi’s unique ice cream taste was quick to become a hit with Southend visitors and residents alike – in fact court records show that Massimiliano Rossi was actually hauled to court in the early days (rather unfairly) for selling too many ice creams (more on that in our true ice cream stories from Southend section!).

As business flourished, a further parlour was opened at number 1 Marine Parade on the seafront. This branch began a partnership with Pietro Rossi, a distant cousin of Anna’s who had moved to Southend.

Pietro and his family had relocated from Consett, county Durham, where they owned their own ice cream business.

Unfortunately, the partnership did not last and dissolved in 1938. It was agreed Pietro Rossi and his wife Luisa would trade along the seafront, while keeping 1 Marine Parade. Following that, the Westcliff parlour was opened and a factory was built in Lucy Road in the late 1960s.

In 2017 Rossi moved from its original Lucy Road factory to new premises at Temple Farm Industrial Estate.

So how does the iced magic that makes Rossi one of the most in demand ice cream brands available, take place?

In 2017 the Echo was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Rossi factory.

Managing Director Colin Gray described the ice cream-making process “It starts with all staff members entering an area where they will put on protective equipment including boots and beard covers,” he said.

“They then wash and sanitise their hands and remove all jewellery and watches. Before entering the production area, they sanitise their hands again.

“The post base mix is made with fresh milk, butter and double cream and is stored in ageing vats prior to production.

“If it is a flavoured ice cream, additional ingredients are then added. The ice cream mix is then pumped into a continuous batch freezer to produce the ice cream and from here the tubs are filled.

“For the small 125ml tubs, a rotary filler is connected to the batch freezer. They are then kept in a large temperature-controlled freezer.

“Products are then delivered to customers by our own drivers or distributed by the pallet to supermarkets including Asda, Morrisons or the Co-op.”

The story of the Rossi family was captured in a book, released in 2018 by author Patricia Volante, who herself worked for Rossi in 1959 when she was a teenager.

‘Rossi’s The Story of Southend’s Favourite Ice Cream’ follows the lives of the Rossi clan through several generations and reveals the hardship and ambition involved in emigrating and building a business from scratch.

The book follows their struggles in the war years and how most of the Rossi children served in the British armed forces.

You can buy the book online on the Rossi website where, incidentally, you can also snap up a classic vanilla flavoured Rossi air freshener for the car. That’s the sweet smell of success for any business!