Last Sunday was National Hat Day, so my thoughts turned to the many different hats in Scotland. At this time of year, though, perhaps a pokey hat would only be for the hardy. I refer, of course, to an ice cream cone.
The earliest citation in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) is from the Bulletin (July 1958):
“Uncle William is left to suck his pokey-hat on his own”.
Reports of a 1924 court case (Wishaw Press, July) stated being able to buy:
“Three pokey hats for two pence”.
And the Kirkintilloch Gazette recorded an illicit transaction in the same year:
“When he was about the end of the park, two or three youngsters who knew him asked for a ‘pokey hat’ … The constable warned the accused that the sale of ice cream was prohibited in the park.”.
Scots can be a continuing journey of discovery.
“… James Watson thought he had the Scots language licked - until he heard ‘pokey hat’. [He] sells them every day but didn’t know it meant an ice cream cone.”
Daily Record (March 1995).
In July 2021, a writer for The Herald observed:
“The tourists strode, pokey hat in hand, and looked upon the wonders of Campbeltown and rejoiced. At least this one did.”
We have one or two explanations of the origin, one from the Daily Record (August 1999):
“The name ‘pokey hat’ or ‘hokey pokey’ originally came from the early ice-cream vendors who peddled their wares shouting ‘ecco un poco’ - try a sample”.
This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at https ://dsl.ac.uk.