From 863 Flavors to Zero: Ice Cream Shop in Venezuela Closes Its Doors Due to Alleged Milk Shortage

A Venezuelan ice cream shop know for its bizarre flavors, from trout to “mushroom in wine sauce,” has shut down this week due to a “milk shortage.”

Heladeria Coromoto, which sells a Guinness World Record-breaking 863 flavors of ice cream in Merida, a college town in the Andes, told customers it would shut down due to the shortage.

However, the closing of the ice cream shop also serves as a symbol of the country’s bad economy.

Not only has milk been in short supply in Venezuela, but so have corn meal, cooking oil, eggs, butter, beef and even toilet paper. The past year also saw high inflation rates and anti-government protests in the country.

Yet in a bizarre twist later on, the Venezuelan Tourism Ministry denied that the ice cream store had to shut down due to a lack of milk.

The ministry tweeted on Monday, Dec. 29 that the claim was “false” and accused the owner of the shop, Manuel da Silva, of trying to attack the government.

On the ministry’s website, an article claimed that da Silva was away in his home country of Portugal. “Manuel da Silva is an opposition supporter, with every right to be so, except that he’s telling a lie and his action was planned, through the media, as part of the low-intensity war against the present government,” the article said.

The government agency also asserted that other ice cream parlors in Merida were having no trouble finding enough milk to function normally.

Yet Merida is also one of the areas where food, especially dairy products, is hit hard by smugglers, who take such items to Colombia. In an area where food is worth far more inside Venezuela’s borders, making more than 800 flavors of ice cream is an obvious challenge.

It could be possible for the ice cream company to move its headquarters elsewhere — a daunting prospect that requires extensive planning for any kind of business.

But doing so would take more than calling up a moving company. Da Silva would also need the cooperation of their government in order to escape the region or the country itself.

For now, opposition leaders still blame the longtime socialist government for economic problems, while current leadership under Hugo Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, argues that opposition leaders are responsible for sabotaging the economy.