Home Columnist EVER WONDER: Ice Cream



By Jacque Scott

Ice Cream

Ever think about that milky icy stuff we love to eat, especially in hot weather?  Ever wonder why or how ice cream came to be?

The first dish of ice cream was probably made thousands of years ago when someone accidentally left a bowl of milk outside on a cold night.  It has been said that the ‘milk and honey’ referred to in the Bible might actually have been ice cream.

The Chinese were mixing snow and fruit juices 3,000 years ago to make deserts.   Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC enjoyed ice cream, made from honey, fruit juice and milk.   It was frozen with snow and carried down the mountains by his workers.  It was a dessert very similar ro our ice cream.

Ice cream making was a lost art until 1295 when Marco Polo brought recipes for water and milk ices to Venice from Peking. He is credited with bringing an early form of ice cream ro Europe. When Catherine de Medici married the French Duc d’Orleans (later Henry II) in 1553, she brought her ice cream ‘makers’ to France with her.  When the daughter of Henry IV married Charles I of England, ice cream crossed the English Channel.  Charles I paid his ice cream chef quite well to guard the secret recipe.

By 1700, ice cream was introduced and became quite popular in the homes of the early well-to-do American colonists.  Americans opened the first ice cream parlor in New York City.  They say that George Washington even spent $200 on ice cream in 1790.  And, Dolly Madison served ice cream at a state dinner at the White House.

In 1846, an American, Nancy Johnson, invented the hand cranked freezer, and in 1851, Baltimore gave us the first ice cream factory.

Americans had fallen in love with ice cream.  By 1859, the United States was eating about 4,000 gallons a year, and by the end of the 19th century, we were eating more than five million gallons a year.  Today Americans eat more than twenty quarts for every man, woman and child each year.

The ice cream soda was born when a soda pop seller added ice cream to his carbonated drinks in 1874.  It was so good that some ministers preached against it saying it was just too sinful to eat it on Sunday.  In the 1880’s, an ice cream parlor in Evanston, Illinois went around the church law by leaving out the carbonated water and putting the syrup right on top of the ice cream.  This wonderful new treat was called a “Sunday,” but the name was later changed to the more elegant “Sundae.”

Story has it that at the St Louis Fair in 1904, an ice cream vendor ran short of dishes and rolled up one of his thin Belgian waffles into a cornucopia.  Thus the waffle ice cream cone was born….

In 1919, a little boy in an Iowa sweet shop only had a nickel but wanted both candy and ice cream.  The shop owner felt sorry for him and dipped his ice cream into the chocolate for him.  The ‘Eskimo Pie’ was born.  Later it was all put onto a stick in Ohio.

In 1929, the popular Rocky Road flavor began to be available as an alternative to vanilla,chocolate, and strawberry flavors.

Americans came up with all kinds of flavors.  Howard Johnson developed 28 flavors and Baskin-Robbins made 31.  Since then people have come up with more than five hundred flavors.  A few of these have been rejected because they did not catch on such as ‘Fig Newton’ and ‘Prune Whip’.  Others tried to introduce Sauerkraut Sherbet, Squash, and Mustard but results were also disappointing.  Yuck, just think of mustard as a flavor…  Yuck…

In 1984, July was declared National Ice Cream month.  Today, ice cream continues to be the best selling treat in America.

So there you have it… a bit about ice cream….  God bless you.