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Guns. Arson. And, ice cream and superglue.

Not a likely mix? In Glasgow’s East End in the 1980s, the four went hand in hand.

The Glasgow Ice Cream Wars were a turf war like any other. Operators of rival ice cream trucks, aiming to seize control of more lucrative areas and likely using the innocence of ice cream as a cover for illicit firearms and drug dealing, took to arms. Given the venue, the back-and-forth was incredibly violent: vandalism, armed robbery, and the occassional shotgun shell through a windshield. The situation was so dire that police vehicles were dispatched to tail ice cream truck (which lead locals to dub these police cars the “serious chimes squad,” half in jest) in hopes of stemming the cycle of violence.

But things would get worse before they got better  In early 1984, one of the drivers, 18 year old Andrew Doyle, apparently refused to use his route to assist in the trafficking of illegal goods, even after being shot at. In mid-April, rivals, allegedly, went too far, setting Doyle’s house afire at 2 A.M., in an attempt to frighten him into submission. But given the time of night, the six people in the house were all asleep. None survived the blaze.

Two men were tried and convicted of the murders but not without controversy. One of the men, Joe Steele, escaped from prison in 1993 and took action to protest his conviction, supergluing himself to a railing at Buckingham Palace, as seen here. The other, T.C. Campbell, went on an in-prison hunger strike. In the end, their protests worked, leading to a significant amount of public awareness of the flaws in the case against them and, ultimately, to reversal of judgment after the pair served twenty years in prison apiece.

Bonus fact: In the United States, the marketing of ice cream is regulated by the government. Federal regulations require that any product marketed as “ice cream” (excluding “reduced-fat” “low fat” “light” or “fat free” varieties of “ice cream”) contain no less than 10% milk fat — roughly 7 grams of fat per half a cup.

From the Archives: The Nazi’s Chocolate Bomb: Another dessert-related death trap.

Originally published

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