Gelato of one kind or another has been popular in Italy for thousands of years. After the Civil War in the United States, Italian immigrants emerged in large cities as ice cream vendors called Hokey-Pokey Men.
The term “Hokey Pokey” presumably evolved from the Italian cry that the Italian vendors used as they hawked their cheap ice cream. “Ecco un poco” they’d cry (that’s Italian for “here’s a little”), or “O che poco” (Oh, how cheap). Hokey-pokey actually referred to cheap ice cream or ice milk.