A Long History of Ice Cream

Americans love ice cream. Annually, we product 1.6 billion gallons of frozen desserts a year. Of that, we export 40 million gallons – the rest is all for us. In dollar amounts, we spend $20 billion a year on frozen treats. The exact historyof ice cream is unknown, but it can be traced back for certain to Emperor Nero. Let’s take a look at the history of this cool concoction

Unlike the ice cream we know today, a distant ancestor first apeared in China’s Tang period (618-97 AD). King Tang of Shang had men, “ice men” as they were called, who made a dish similar to ice cream using buffalo milk, flour and camphor. About 2000 BC, ice cream appeared in China when a soft milk and rice mixture was packed in snow, making it solid.

One of the earliest records of ice cream can be traced to 54 AD when Emperor Nero would serve “sweet snow” at his banquets. Sweet snow was snow brought back from the mountains and flavored with honey, wine or fruit.

Before refrigeration, ice cream was a treat reserved for royalty or the nobles. Making it would take hours, so it helped to have servants who could spend the time making it.

In Europe during the 1660s, a new treat called “water ices” became the rage. It wasn’t long before cooks began adding cream to the mix and using metal molds to form shapes.

In England, the first official appearance of ice cream occurred during the riegn of Charles II in 1671. During the Feast of St. George, the only tables serving ices was the king’s. Those fortunate enought to be at this table had one plate of white strawberries and one plate of ice cream.

Ice cream was also a hit in America. It was served by Geore Washington, who loved it so much that he ran up a $200 bill for it one summer. Thomas Jefferson is credited for introducing vanilla to America and Dolly Madison served ice cream at the second inaugural ball in 1812.

The 1800s saw innovations in the ice cream trade. A lot of time and effort went into making ice cream prior to 1843. That year, Nancy Johnson invented the hand-cranked ice cream churn. She was unable to patent her invention, so she sold it for $200. In 1851, Jacob Russell established the first commercial ice cream plant in Baltimore. In 1897, Alfred Cralle patented an ice cream scoop. In 1896, Italian emigrant Italo Marchiony produced the first ice cream cone in New York City. He was granted a patent in 1903.

At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, Charles Menches began selling ice cream in dishes. That year was particularly hot and Menches ran out of dishes before noon. At a nearby stand, Ernest Hamwi was selling zalabia, a crisp wafer-like pastry sold with syrup. Menches grabbed a zalabia, rolled it and then scooped his ice cream on top and the rest, they say, is history.

As for the history of the ice cream sundae, there are two possible originators. The states in the Midwest passed laws that prohibited the sale of soda water on Sunday. Evanston, IL. was one of the first to do so in 1890. Local soda fountains got around the law by selling ice cream sodas without the soda water, which left the ice cream and syrup.

Another claim to sundae originator goes to Ed Berners of Two Rivers, WI. Sometime from 1881 to 1890, Geore Hallauer came in to Berners’ shop and wanted ice cream topped with soda syrup. Berners added this to his regular menu and charged a nickel, the same price as a serving witout the syrup. George Giffy, a competitor from Manitowac, decided to serve the same thing as Berners. Giffy called the dish a “sunday” because that was the day it was served. Giffy later change the name to “sundae” and served it every day.

The ice cream bar is a creation of Chris Nelson. Nelson owned an ice cream shop in Onawa, IA. Back in 1920, customer Douglas Ressenden couldn’t decide between an ice cream sandwich and a chocolate bar. Nelson solved the problem by covering an ice cream bar with chocolate. The first Eskimo Pie chocolate ice cream bar was produced in 1934.

Let’s look at some other historic events in ice cream history.

      The first recipe for making ice cream appeared in 1718. Before then, making ice cream was a secret and anyone who could make it had a lifetime meal ticket.

      In 1920, the Good Humor Bar was invented my Harry Burt. These ice cream bars were sold from white trucks. The drivers all had to wear white uniforms.

      In 1926, Clarence Vogt developed the first commercial continuous-process freezer. This led to the ability to mass produce ice cream.

      In 1929, William Dreyer and Joseph Edy creaed the first batch of Rocky Road ice cream.

      In 1956, Leo Stefanos invented the Dove Bar.

      In 1960, Reuben Mattus invented Haagen-Dazs. He choose the name because he thought it sounded Danish.

      The biggest ice cream sundae was made in 1985. It was 12 feet tall and contained 4667 gallons of ice cream.

      Vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream.

      Five percent of people share their ice cream with their pet.

      The best temperature to serve ice cream is at 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

The United States it the number one consumer of ice cream in the world. No matter what your favorite flavor is, if you eat ice cream you have a lot of company.