I have never been to Istanbul but I am planning to go there with the kids. A friend of mine showed me yesterday a video of him buying ice cream from a traditional ice cream shop in Istanbul. He insists that it's a must for the man to do the usual tricks/troll with you before handing you your order.

I don't like that but I don't want to sound rude especially in front of my children. Is it a must from their culture point of view? can I avoid that?

The Wikipedia page for Dondurma doesn't mention anything about it.

enter image description here

The video is here

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    From my experience, the ice cream sellers don't speak English, so unless you are able to communicate in Turkish (or whatever other language the seller speaks), he won't understand you anyway. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 14:00
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    He is just doing his job, it is nothing against you. Just enjoy the show and the city.
    – edocetirwi
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 14:10
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    @User If you are hungry and don't have time for jokes, then you should go find actual food instead of a dessert treat from a street vendor.
    – agweber
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 17:07
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    @iHaveacomputer Troll or not, this is a legitimate, well-written, and on-topic question. If I had enough rep I would vote to reopen.. Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 20:10
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    I'm voting up this question because it's logical. I understand some people feel it's funny, but personally, I'd feel it's annoying since I've been trolled so many times just for an ice-cream like an idiot kid. Depending on my mood, I might be frustrated and yell. In this case, the OP don't want their kids to adopt this trolling which is even more logical. I wouldn't want my kids to do these things to me at home.
    – XPMai
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 4:19

5 Answers 5


It'd be like going to a comedy show and telling the comedian off for making jokes at the audience. If it's expected and part of the 'show' or experience, it's what he does for a living, enjoys doing and to be told not to do it - well it'd be considered wrong.

I'd hope you wouldn't tell the waitress not to ask about your day (she's being friendly as part of her job) and ... yeah hopefully you get the idea, and my comparisons certainly aren't perfect, but the point remains - when someone is adding something of their own to the experience to distinguish themselves from the competition, that's what you're paying for.

You could try saying no. But it could be taken rudely, it could also be misinterpreted and cause confusion. Or you could get your kids (if they're old enough) to buy the ice-cream and see if they enjoy the 'game' he plays, and that way, you won't have to deal with it :)

  • 25
    Another example, going to the strip club and get upset because girls dance close to you. Solution go to a normal bar instead. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 16:48
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    A more direct analogy would be going to a habachi grill and not asking them to do any of the fancy knife twirling and such that they are so well known for while they prepare your meal. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 19:39
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    @CynthiaAvishegnath I honestly don't understand why you're bringing gender into the discussion. This has nothing to do with the person in the picture/video being female, and IMHO it doesn't have anything to do with harassment either. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 11:53
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    Yeah no he's not. It's part of the show. You can choose to buy from another vendor (if there is one), or don't buy ice-cream, or use suggestion from my answer above.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 13:51
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    @User I think he would - in fact, Mike Tyson should be offended if he didn't get the same treatment. It's part of the show. There are plenty of video's on youtube showing this and other vendors who do the same with men. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 22:01


You don't buy it

Let's just analyse this for a bit shall we? You're not paying for the ice cream, you're paying for the experience. If you like ice cream but don't like entertainment or 'street entertainment' to be specific, buy your ice cream from somewhere that doesn't do that... Do not try and get the ice cream vendor to not 'do his show' for you... That is very rude. You buy from him, you are pretty much buying into the act and to turn around and say, "Please don't do that." is like asking for something and then refusing it.

This reminds me of Singapore and the icecream and bread sandwiches they sell. I know several people that would turn it down because of how 'boring' or 'weird' it sounds, but the fact that I bought one without expecting anything made the experience that much better. Ice cream and bread? it works!

The fact that you are going to get upset because he's trying to entertain you means you should not be buying ice cream from street vendors. If it is that detrimental to your trip, just buy ice cream from places that don't serve them with large long spoons.


Having visited Istanbul and gotten Dondurma from such a vendor complete with the show, all I can say is it was one of the funnest experiences of the trip.

I had no idea about what went on when asking for an ice cream cone and the Turks who were around when it occurred were all obviously in on the joke since they grew up with it. The showmanship alone was worth the price of the cone, but the ice cream was very good too.

If I had children I'd certainly want them to experience it, afterward I asked the vendor to take a picture with me, which he kindly obliged. I can't find it right now, or I'd post it as an attachment.

My unsolicited advice? Even if you won't enjoy it, allow your children to do so, they'll be delighted by the show and definitely enjoy the results.


Just practice your eye-hand coordination, e.g. you can play catch with your kids. If your eye-hand coordination is good enough and you have fast enough reflexes, you'll be able to snatch that huge bulk of ice cream enough for 20 persons that the ice cream man was holding in front of the woman's face in the video.

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    just got my account registered for this site in order to upvote you :D
    – Gigala
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 9:24

Other answers have pretty much exhaustively answered the moral part of the question. But if you really need to annoy the ice cream man, you can:

  • Play the same game with him when it's your turn to give him the money. People nearby will enjoy it as mush as they enjoyed watching him fooling you.

  • Or you can try to imitate an average annoyed Turk by saying something in Turkish (yes it's hard), like e.g.:

"Abicim hayırlı işler, insan gibi bi dondurma yemek istiyorum, lütfen zehir etmeyelim."

Which roughly means:

Good deeds, my lovely brother, I just want to eat ice cream like a normal person, let's not ruin it for me.

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