Oh, how I remember the Yum Yum.
Mmmmm . . . so cool and refreshing on these hot, hot late summer days.
If you don't know what Yum Yum is, you don't know what you're missing.
But if you're from Camden, NJ you probably do remember Leo's Famous Yum Yum.
Founded by Italian immigrant, John (Giovanni) Leo, Leo's Famous Yum Yum began in 1936 on Third Street in South Camden (then known as Little Italy or Little South Philly).
According to Phil Cohen (as reported on Phil's excellent web site about Camden's earlier days):"Leo's Famous Yum-Yum was sold to street vendors in metal Twenty-quart cans packed in wooden barrels surrounded by ice and salt. Yum-Yum was delivered on a daily basis to the various vendors. The dessert lasted in ice for about fourteen hours. By the 1950's, Leo's Famous Yum-Yum had become the leading frozen dessert treat not only in Camden, New Jersey (120,000 population at the time) but in all of South Jersey."
Yes, I remember those wooden barrels.
I remember them because I carted one of those wooden barrels through the streets of Camden selling Yum Yum out of a little red wagon. How I remember digging deep into the can as the day wore on. And how we all loved counting our pennies, nickels, dimes and (sometimes) quarters as we sold the Yum Yum on side streets amidst Camden's row homes.
We used to keep burlap over the barrel with the can inside to help keep the yum yum cold.
Well, I'm happy to report that Leo's Yum Yum is still available and it still tastes much as we all remember it.
The third generation of the Leo family is now making the Yum Yum in nearby Marlton, NJ.
Here's how Leo's web site describes the Yum Yum: "It's like a sherbet but it isn't. It is kind of like real Italian gelato, but not really. It is a product that has a taste and a history all it's own."
Here's how I describe it: It's not slushy like water ice. It's drier. And, it doesn't have all the syrup that water ice has. It's smoother than water ice. But it's not creamy like gelato. The texture can even be a bit clumpy or flaky. But it's icy cold and genuinely tasty: a unique delight that you are bound to enjoy.
And of course, I recommend the lemon Yum Yum. That's the original, true flavor.
You can buy Leo's Famous Yum Yum at The Candy Buffet on the corner of Kings Highway and Haddon Avenue in Haddonfield. or at Leo's at 7 Tomlinson Mill Road in Medford.