Legends and Myths of Ices and Ice Cream History


Ice Cream History


Generally speaking, a fictional story or an incredible tale, in lieu of evidence, that is passed from one person to another as truth is a legend.  More often than not, it is not possible to trace a legend back to its original source, as they seem to come from nowhere.  A myth is a story containing within and having about it certain identifiable characteristics that are sometimes used to designate a story or the understanding of some matter as fictional and even downright false.

Although the exact origins of ice cream have been lost in history, there are many fascinating legends and myths which surround it.  Legend and facts meet and sometimes inaccurately become part of the history.  Ice houses, ice wells, and ices (drinks made with ice and snow) also seem to get confused.  Greek and Latin literature write about the storage of snow and its ancient usage for the cooling of wine and water.



The Chinese had discovered how to conserve naturally formed winter ice for summer use by building icehouses, which were kept cool by evaporation. The harvesting and storage of ice are recorded in a poem of circa 1100 B.C.  in the Shih Ching, the famous collection of Food Canons.  There is also mention of a festival held when the ice houses were opened for summer use:  “In the days of the second month, they hew out the ice. . . in the third month they convey it to the ice houses which they open in those of the fourth, early in the morning, having offered in sacrifice a lamb with scallions.”

Records show that Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), considered one of the greatest military generals in history, during the siege of Petra, had his slaves bring ice down from the mountains and dug into 30 trenches so that he wouldhave cool refreshments to drink.

Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar of Rome (A.D. 54-68) was known for his fierce cruelties in his reign and is said to have sent teams of runners (slaves) to the mountains to bring snow and ice to cool the fruit drinks he was fond of.


LEGEND and MYTH – Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589), the Italian-born Queen of France, is said to have taken sorbets to France to the court of Francis I (1494–1547) when she went there to marry the Duc d’Orleans (who later became Henri II) at the age of 14.  She brought her staff along to cook for her and her family.  Among her chefs was Ruggeri, the first professional ice cream maker.  During her month-long wedding celebration, he created and served a different ice daily, with flavors including lemon, lime, orange, cherry, and wild strawberry to surprise the royal banquets guests.


FACT:  AntoninCare (1784-1833), celebrated chef and author, wrote in 1822:

“The cooks of the second half of the 1700s came to know the taste of Italian cooking that Catherine deMedici introduced to the French court.”


FACT:  According to Elizabeth David in her book Harvest of the Cold Months – The Social History of Ice and Ices:

When Catherine de Medici left Florence to go to France in the sixteenth century, it was reported that she took with her the best of chefs to make sure that she would be supplied with frozen creams and ices every day, runs one version of the Catherine story. A catch there – apart from the little matter of nobody yet knowing how to freeze ‘creams and ices’ – is that when the fourteen-year-old orphaned Catherine was dispatched to Marseille to marry the Duke of Orleans (he too was only fourteen), her entire household was French . . . in the sixteen century France, the term sorbets, if used at all (it does not appear in the dictionaries until much later), would have implied simply syrups, pastes, powders, lemonades, and other fruit juices, sweetened and diluted with water in the Turkish fashion, and regarded primarily as healthful, sustaining, restorative beverages.


FACT:  According to Esther B.Aresty  in her 1980 book The Exquisite Table – A History of French Cuisine:

Catherine, fourteen at the time, was accompanied by twelve young ladies-in-waiting near her own age, and, undoubtedly, a large retinue that included cooks and servants to wait on the large party that brought her by ship to Marseilles and cared for the travelers on the overland voyage to the French Court.  But as for installing cooks at the court of Francis I to serve her own needs – that would have been bringing coals to Newcastle, and unthinkable in any case with a monarch like Francis I.  At that time his court was far more elegant than any court in Italy.  “The foremost court in Europe, is how the historian Jean Heritier described it. Furthermore, such an idea would never had occurred to the unassuming, undemanding young girl, described by the Venetian ambassador as molto obediente . . .  In 1533, her chief desire was to please her new father-in-law, with whom she had already established a warm relationship through correspondence, and to become completely French as soon as possible.


LEGEND and MYTH – Florence, Italy claims the first ice cream (known as gelato in Italy).  In 1565, Bernardo Buontalenti (1531-1608), the architect to the Royal Court of the Medici family, was hired to create and organize luxurious events for the Florentine banquets, including stage constructions, theater events, fireworks, and food.  For one of his creations, he introduced his invention of  “frozendesserts” made with zabaglione and fruit.


FACT:  According to Elizabeth David in her book Harvest of the Cold Months – The Social History of Ice and Ices:

A multi-faceted genius, Buontalenti was architect, costume designer, dazzling master of mechanical waterworks and hydraulic engineering, impresario of the Medici feasts, festivals and fireworks, and still believed by some to be the inventor of ices.  The roots of this belief, it now appears an entirely erroneous one, can be traced to Buontalenti’s construction of ice houses not only at Pratolino, and in the Granducal Boboli Gardens, but around the walls of Florence itself.  These latter ice houses were for the public sale of ice and snow and were not constructed until some thirty years after the building of Pratolino. . . his name, already associated by his contemporaries with the much-increased popular use of ice and snow in Florence, subsequently became attached equally to the invention of ices, it being a curious truth that food historians, of whatever nationality, rarely trouble to distinguish between ice and ices.


LEGEND and MYTH – Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened a coffee shop in Paris called “Le Procope” in 1686 that served beverages and sherbets.  The cafe became famous for its large variety of ice cream (more than 80 types of ice cream).  He offered a wide variety of iced water or acqua gelata as well as frutta gelata (iced fruits), crema gelata (iced creams) and sorbetto di fragola (strawberry sorbet).


FACT:  Beverages called water ices were manufactured and dispensed at the Le Procope – not ice cream or sorbet.


History of Ices and Ice Cream


History is often used as a generic term for information about the past.  When used as a field of study, history refers to human history, which is the recorded past of human societies.  The term “history” comes from the Greek historia, “an account of one’s inquiries,” and shares that etymology with the English word story.  Historians use many types of sources, including written or printed records, interviews (oral history), and archaeology.

For several centuries, the method of producing ice cream depended on a supply of ice.  Ice was gathered from ponds and lakes in winter, and stored in ice wells and ice houses.  By packing ice into an insulated underground chamber, with adequate drainage ice could be stored for months, sometimes years.  Ice remained a luxury and dependent on nature to produce it, and cumbersome methods to harvest it.

Ice cream appears to have evolved from chilled wines and other iced beverages.  Because of the difficulty in producing ices and ice cream, and the limited amount of ice during most of the year, they were still enjoyed primarily by the wealthy.  For more than a hundred years, recipes were carefully guarded and tasting was a privilege of a select few within the Louvre or Royal Palace.


17th and 18th Centuries:


From the article Asparagus Ice Cream, Anyone? by Jeri Quinzio:

In the late 17th and early 18th century, long before refrigeration was available, Europeans were making ices and ice creams.  Although they were often unsure about freezing techniques, they began experimenting with flavors immediately.  Confectioners tried everything from breadcrumbs to grated cheese to candied orange flowers in these new frozen treats.  They molded them into fanciful shapes and served them with style and flair.  Once in a while, they stumbled — putting foie gras or purd asparagus in ice cream, for example — but most of their experiments were successful.  They led the way to the wonderful range of flavors we enjoy today.

Many of the great plantation houses of colonial Virginia also had an icehouse.  Icehouses were generally built near the riverbank and were reached by means of underground passageways.  Ice was cut from the nearby ponds in wintertime or was received from New England by ship.  It was then hauled by slaves, often crouched on all fours, through the narrow underground corridor to the icehouse itself (a sort of large cave braced with logs).  Layers of straw separated the blocks of ice to facilitate their removal when needed.  On the larger estates, there were icehouses where up to twenty tons of ice could be stored.  Thus the plantation owner’s family and guests were provided with iced drinks, ice cream, and other frozen desserts all through the long Southern summer.


1744 – In 1744, a group of Virginia commissioners, who were on their way to negotiate a treaty with the Iroquois nation, stopped at the home of Maryland’s Colonial Governor, Thomas Bladen (governor of Maryland from 1742 to 1774), and were served some ice cream made from milk and strawberries.  One of the guests, William Black of Virginia, in his 1877 Journal of William Black, published in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, wrote about its virtues:

“… after which came a Dessert no less Curious; Among the Rarities of which it was Compos’d, was some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most Deliciously.”


1768The Art of Making Frozen Desserts was published by M. Emy in Paris, France.  The book not only gives formulas for “food fit for the gods,” but also offers theological and philosophical explanations for such phenomena as the freezing of water.


1769The Experienced English Housekeeper was published by English author, Elizabeth Raffald. Following is her recipe for ice cream on page 228:

Pare, stone and scald twelve ripe Apricots, beat them fine in a Marble Mortar, put to them six Ounces of double refined Sugar, a Pint of scalding Cream, work it through a Hair Sieve, put it into a Tin that has a close Cover, set it in a Tub of Ice broken small, and a large Quantity of Salt put amongst it, when you see your Cream grow thick round the Edges of your Tin, stir it and set it in again ’till it all grows quite thick, when your Cream is all Froze up, take it out of your Tin, and put it in the Mould you intend it to be turned out of, then put on the Lid, and have ready another Tub with Ice and Salt in as before, put your Mould in the Middle, and lay your Ice under and over it, let it stand four or five Hours, dip your Tin in warm Water when you turn it out; if it be Summer, you must not turn it out ’till the Moment you want it; you may use any Sort of Fruit if you have not Apricots, only observe to work it fine.


1770 – The first Gelateria (ice cream shop)  in the United States was established in New York in 1770 by an Italian emigrant, Giovanni Bosio.


Ice Cream Advertisment1774 – The first public advertisement of ice cream was made by Filippo Lenzi, a caterer and confectioner.  He notified residents of New York city that he had just arrived from London and would be offering for sale jams, jellies, pastries, sugar plums, ice cream, and other luxuries.  Caterers and chefs of this era sometimes prepared ice cream for a limited clientele, usually on special order.  Lenzi inserted other advertisements in the newspaper in order to call attention to his wares.

In the New York Gazette-Mercury for May 19, 1777, he thanked his customers for their valued patronage, told of his move to Hanover Square and stated, “May be had almost every day, Ice Cream.”

Readex has published the digital Early American Newspapers, which shows that this advertisement appeared in November 1773:Paper: Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer; Date: 1773-11-25; Iss: 32; Page: [4].

– George Washington (1732-1799), the first President of the United States, is said to have eaten ice cream at a party in Philadelphia give by Monsieur de la Luzeme, the French minister, in honor of the birth of the Dauphin of France.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, is also said to have first served ice cream to George Washington in 1789.  After this introduction to ice creams, it was often served at the presidential Thursday dinners.  An entry in Washington’s ledger reveals that he bought a “cream machine for ice” at Mount Vernon.

– A New York merchant reported that according to his records, president George Washington spent about $200 for ice cream that summer.  The Washingtons borrowed the custom of the levee (a large afternoon assembly or reception) from the British court.  At a typical Washington levee, the refreshments were simple: ice cream, cake, lemonade, tea, and coffee.

1784 to 1789
– Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third President of the United States, learned to make ice cream while he was in France as Secretary of State.  Thomas Jefferson brought with him from France a “cream machine for ice” or a “sorbetiere” to be used at this home in Monticello.  Jefferson employed an excellent French chef and meticulously copied some of his best recipes to take home to Monticello.  He observed that:

“snow gives the most delicate flavor to creams, but ice is the most powerful congealer and lasts longer.”


1794 – Authelme Brittat-Savarin (1755-1826), French politician and writer on gastronomy, tells how a French Captain named Collet made and sold ices in New York in 1794 and 1795.  He describes, with satisfaction, the surprise of American women at this technological and masculine feat:

“Nothing could be more amusing than the little grimaces they made when eating them.  They were utterly at a loss to conceive how a substance could be kept so cold in a temperature of ninety degrees.”


19th Century

By the beginning of the 19th century, Philadelphia was considered the ice cream capital of the United States because of the quantity of ice cream produced there, because of the city’s famous public ice cream “houses,” and also because of a much-loved vanilla-and-egg flavor called “Philadelphia.”

– Thomas Jefferson was one of the first to serve ice cream at a state banquet in the White House.  One guest commented on the dessert at a Presidential dinner consisting of:

“ice-cream very good, crust wholly dried, crumbled into thin flakes.”

Another guest at another White House dinner noted that the dessert was “ice-cream brought to the table in the form of small balls, enclosed in cases of warm pastry.”

Although the name came much later, it is likely that this was a dish similar to Baked Alaska.


1813 – Mrs. Jeremiah Shadd (known as Aunt Sallie Shadd), a freed black slave, achieved legendary status among Wilmington’s free black population as the inventor of ice cream.  She’d opened a catering business with family members and created a new dessert sensation made from frozen cream, sugar, and fruit.

Dolly Madison (1768-1849), wife of President James Madison who was the fourth President of the United State, heard about the new dessert, went to Wilmington to try it.  Mrs. Madison enjoyed Sallie’s ice cream so much it became part of the menu at her husband’s Second Inauguration Ball in 1813, as well as the official dessert of White House dinners.  Her White House dinners became renowned for their strawberry “bombe glacee” centerpiece desserts.


1832 – African-American, Augustus Jackson, is credited for the modern method of manufacturing, (not discovering) ice cream, and the multiple ice cream recipes he developed around 1832.  He uniquely used ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of his special mix of ingredients.  Unfortunately he never applied for a patent.  He left his position as a cook/chef at the White House, moved to Philadelphia and created several popular ice cream flavors and methods of manufacturing ice cream.  He distributed it in tin cans to Philadelphias many ice cream parlors.  Today Jackson is called the “father of ice cream.”


Ice Cream Patent1843 – Nancy M. Johnson (1795-1890) (it is not certain where she was from – some say New Jersey, Washington D.C., and even Philadelphia) invented the hand-cranked ice cream freezer (her basic design of the freezer is still used today).  Her invention simplified the process of making ice cream.  She patented it on September 9, 1843, Patent No. 3254.  The invention of this machine marked a revolution in the history of ice cream.  From this time on, anyone could make the very best quality ice cream at home (especially since rock salt, which came to be commonly called “ice cream salt” until the early 20th century, had became a cheap commodity).

The inner can was placed in the outer bucket, and ice and salt were placed between the inner can and outer bucket.  The salt lowered the freezing point of the ice, and contact with the inner bucket made a thin layer of milk freeze on the inside of the inner can.  The rotating paddle, turned by a crank, scraped off the frozen milk, and let a new layer freeze.

1850 – Carlo Gatti (1817-1878), came to London from the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, may well have been the first person to sell ice cream.  He came to London in 1847 and sold refreshments from a stall.  He sold pastries and ices in little shells.  The Penny Ice, also known as halfpenny ices, caught on rapidly and Gatti was at the forefront of selling ice cream to the ordinary man or woman, who had previously been unable to afford a taste of such luxury.  He was so successful that he and others brought many more Italians over to join them.  He is credited for having popularized the ice cream cart and penny ices in the streets of London.

For his ice cream business he had to import ice in huge quantities from Norway.  He also bought the ice that formed in winter on the Regent’s Park Canal.  The huge ice house pits built near Kings Cross by Carlo Gatti in 1850s, where he stored the ice he shipped to England from Norway by sailing ship and then canal barge.  He built two underground ice wells to store the ice.  Each well was a huge cylinder about 10 meters in diameter and 13 meters deep and could hold up to 750 tons of ice.


From the 1877 book called Victorian London by J. Thompson and Adolphe Smith:

In little villainous-looking and dirty shops an enormous business is transacted in the sale of milk for the manufacture of halfpenny ices.  This trade commences at about four in the morning.  The men in varied and extraordinary dhabille pour into the streets, throng the milk-shops, drag their barrows out, and begin to mix and freeze the ices.  Carlo Gatti has an ice depot close at hand, which opens at four in the morning, and here a motley crowd congregates with baskets, pieces of cloth, flannel, and various other contrivances for carrying away their daily supply of ice.  Gradually the freezing process is terminated, and then the men, after dressing themselves in a comparatively-speaking decent manner, start off, one by one, to their respective destinations. It is a veritable exodus. . . .

. . . The real ice, however, for which there is a universal demand, is that known under the generic term of cream ice.  But milk is indispensable to its manufacture, and indeed eggs should also be used.  This necessity altogether destroys the golden dreams suggested by the water ices, and great are the efforts made to sell the latter, or at least to mix a goodly proportion with the expensive cream delicacy.  Nevertheless, the profits on selling cream ices must amount to nearly a hundred per cent, so that after all the Italians are not so much to be pitied because their customers display inconsiderate pertinacity in their demand for that form of ice which is not only the most agreeable to the palate, but the most wholesome and nutritious. . . .


1850 – The first Canadian to start selling ice cream was Thomas Webb of Toronto, a confectioner, around 1850.  William Neilson produced his first commercial batch of ice cream on Gladstone Ave. in Toronto in 1893, and his company produced ice cream at that location for close to 100 years.


1851 – The first wholesale ice cream business in the United States was opened on June 15, 1851 in Baltimore, Maryland by Jacob Fussell (1819-1912), a milk dealer who was searching for a way to keep a steady demand for his cream.  He was the first person in the U.S. to produce and sell ice cream on a large scale.  Fussell sold his ice cream at less than half the price charged by others (twenty-five cents a quart against sixty-five cents a quart charged by others in the city).

At his Baltimore ice cream factory, he built and installed huge replicas of the original Nancy Johnson’s crank (see 1843 above) and opened his own icehouses to control the entire ice cream-making process.  By 1909, the Fussell factory was making and packing 30 million gallons of ice cream annually.  By 1856 he had opened manufacturing operations and parlors in Washington, D.C., and Boston.  Fussell shipped his ice cream in trains packed with ice from Baltimore to Washington D.C., Boston, and New York.

At the corner of Hillen and Exeter Streets in Baltimore, the Maryland Historical Society has erected a plaque in Jacob Fussell’s honor, proclaiming Baltimore as the “Birthplace of the ice cream industry.”  Today Fussell is known as the father of the American ice cream industry.


1864 – On July 12, 1864, the Confederate cavalry under the command of General Bradley T. Johnson (1829-1903) came south from Frederick through the County on their way to threaten Washington, D.C.   As the force rode into Owings Mills, the location of an ice cream factory.  The employees were loading a shipment of ice cream onto the Western Maryland Railway for delivery to Baltimore.  Their rations were running low, so the soldiers seized the shipment.  Many had not seen ice cream before and ate it straight out of the ten-gallon freezers for breakfast or put it in their hats and ate it while riding along.  Others put it into their canteens to melt because it was too cold.

Was This the Largest Ice Cream Social of the Civil War,  by Harold Screen, The Ice Screamer, Issue #102, May, 2004.  Source material: The Baltimore Country Public Library, the Baltlimore County Historical Society and the Maryland State Archives:

On the morning of July 12th, Johnson received word that Federal reinforcements were on their way and decided to return to Virginia but on their way home they passed by Painters Mill, the Owings Mills (then Owens Mill), Maryland, location of an ice cream factory. The employees were loading ice cream on a boxcar for delivery to Baltimore when the Confederates arrived. General Johnson allowed his men to help themselves to these frozen vittles (typical activity of the Civil War – living off the land). Many of his men were from the mountains of southwest Virginia and had never seen ice cream before. Its reported that the soldiers pressed every available cup, pail and tin cup into service, some even used their hats to enjoy this unexpected treat.

The Great American Ice Cream Book
, by Paul Dickson, published by Galahad Books, 1972, Chapter IV, page 44:

As early as 1789 the American soldier look upon ice cream as something special. Historian Harry Emerson Wildes wrote that, after victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, Major General “Mad” Anthony Wayne and his officer st down to a feast that ended with “dishes of ice cream, a dainty which the Army had not seen since it left the East.”

Later, during the Civil Water, non other than Jacob Fussell was selling ice cream to Union supply officers from his Washington plant.


1865 – After the Civil War, the number of ice cream vendors called Hokey-Pokey Men, exploded in the large cities.  The term “Hokey Pokey”  presumably evolved from the Italian cry that the Italian vendors hawked their cheap ice cream, although what this originally was is not known.  There have been several suggestions: a corruption of “Ecce, Ecce” (Look, Look); a derivation of “Hocus Pocus;” a corruption of “Ecco un poco” (Italian for Heres a little), the Italian “Oche poco” (Oh how little) – the last one being a reference to price, rather than the quantity, which gives it the most plausibility.  Hokey-pokey actually referred to cheap ice cream or ice milk.  In general, they sold delicious ice cream, even though their standards of sanitation were quite low.  On a hot summer day in the city, there were swarms of children surrounding the ice cream vendors. ollowing is the catchy, nonsense phrase that was popular with the street vendors or Hokey-pokey men:

“Hokey-pokey, pokey ho. Hokey-pokey, a penny a lump. Hokey-pokey, find a cake; hokey-pokey on the lake.  Here’s the stuff to make your jump; hokey-pokey, penny a lump. Hokey-pokey, sweet and cold; for a penny, new or old.”


1876 – The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the first worlds fair held in the United States to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, offered Americans a chance to see and taste the latest innovations in ice cream molds.  According to The History of Ice Cream in Philadelphia:

“In order to learn the secrets of molds, a well known ice cream manufacturer, John Miller worked at The Vienna Bakery concession at the Exhibition without pay. According to his recollections, the confectioners combined candy with ice cream to create goblets, cups, saucers, and bowls that resembled Bohemian glass, ice cream ships on spun-sugar waves, ice cream chicks inside spun-sugar nests filled with ice cream eggs, log cabins constructed of ice cream and ladyfingers, and an ice cream Mount Vesuvius, that was actually set ablaze before it was served.”


A Centennial Exhibition trade card for Gaff, Fleishmann & Co. products made with compressed yeast shows a photo of the Vienna Model Bakery.  On the reverse side it says:

“Gaff, Fleischmann & Co., original manufacturers and introducers into the United States of compressed yeast, deutsche presshefe, levure allemande, levadura comprimida, have erected their model bakery to demonstrate to the public the superior qualities of their compressed yeast. Adjoining is an elegant cafe (on the Vienna plan), where the products of the bakery will be served, together with the best of Vienna coffee, chocolate, tea and ices of all kinds, at moderate prices.”


1885 – Agnes B. Marshall (1855-1905) of London, England published The Book Of Ices.  She owned a cooking school called Mortimer Street School of Cookery.  She also designed and marketed an ice cream freezer, which she claimed was capable of freezing a pint of ice cream mixture in five minutes.  Most ice cream freezers, then and now, are deep and narrow.  Marshall’s patented machine was broad and shallow.  Her lectures were attended by female cooks “and their ladies.”  Her customers and students were able to make some spectacular molded ices and ice puddings.  The cooking school continued until the early 1950s.


1897 – Alfred L. Cralle, African-American inventor, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was issued a patent No. 576,395 on February 2,1897 for an “Ice Cream Mold and Disher.” His design was made to be strong and durable, effective, inexpensive, able to keep ice cream and other foods from sticking, and easy to operate with one hand. It could be constructed in almost any desired shape, such as a cone or a mound, with no delicate parts that could break or malfunction. The basic design is so efficient that it is seen still in use today.


1892 – The Pennsylvania State College established the first course in ice cream making.  Iowa State College offered instruction in 1901.


1899 – August Gaulin of France, invented the homogenizer which which breaks down the fat globules to give ice cream its smooth texture.  It was in use within two years.  The United States patent was dated April 11, 1904.  He also invented the brine freezer which permitted faster freezing.


20th Century


Several inventions, such as new freezers and mechanical refrigeration had dramatic effects on the growth of the industry.  Five million gallons of ice cream were being produced in the United States in 1899, thirty million gallons in 1909, and 150 million gallons by 1919.  In 1930, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) was introduced commercially in the United States for purposes such as keeping ice cream cold.


1914 to 1918 – During World War I (1914-1918), ice cream played a role as a propaganda tool and morale builder.  A German officer, when asked about America’s involvement in the war, said that “We do not fear that nation of ice cream eaters.”  After his comment was printed in American newspapers, it created a lot of response about the frozen treat.

– Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in the 1920s were given food considered “typical” American.  But many of them tried to spread this “frozen butter” on bread when given ice cream.


1926 – Clarence Vogt, Louisville, Kentucky, invented the first commercially successful continuous process freezer in 1926, allowing mass production of the product.


1935 – In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), 32nd President of the United States, publicly confessed that he liked to have ice cream at least once a day.


1938 – The father and son team, J. F. McCullough (better known as Grandpa) and Alex McCullough invented soft-serve ice cream, an invention that gave birth to the Dairy Queen.  Grandpa McCullough knew the mix tasted best before it was frozen into its final form, since lower temperatures numbed the taste buds, robbing the mix of some of its flavor.  So he and Alex set out to find out two things: if customers liked the taste of softer ice cream and if there was a machine that would facilitate serving the creamy mix.  They held a sale for “All The Ice Cream You Can Eat For 10 Cents.”  They dished up 1,600 servings in two hours.  They also came across a prototype machine when Alex noticed a vendor selling frozen custard out of a special freezer in Chicago.


1941 to 1945 – During World War II, for every pilot rescued from the water by an escort destroyer, aircraft carriers would give the smaller ship a twenty-gallon reward of ice cream.  The United Press reported that the Army procurement priorities rated ice cream, candy soft drinks, chewing gum, and tobacco products as essential for maintaining troop morale.

In 1945, the Navy commissioned the worlds first “floating ice cream parlour” for service in the Western Pacific.  The parlor was a refrigerated concrete barge, built at a cost of over one million dollars, that was capable of producing ten gallons of ice cream every seven seconds.  The barge had no engine of it’s own, but was towed around by tugs and other ships.  It’s sole responsibility was to produce ice cream for US sailors in the Pacific region.  Sources: World War II in the Pacific, Special Ships and The United States Navy Then and Now

Ice cream, during the war, was still available to civilians, but it was limited by stringent rules and conditions.  The government was forced to reduce the milk and sugar available for making ice cream.  Shortages were common and many neighborhood soda parlors found themselves with ice cream intermittently.

In 1945, a large helium-filled balloon shaped like a triple-decker ice cream cone was displayed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  It was billed as the world’s largest cone.



For a detailed history of the following individual types of ice cream, click on the underlined:

Baked Alaska

Ice Cream Cone

Ice Cream Sundae



A History of Ice Cream in Philadelphia, Chilly Philly.
American Food – The Gastronomic Story, by Evan Jones, published by E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc, 1975.
Asparagus Ice Crea, Anyone? by Jeri Quinzio, Gastronomica – The Journal of Food and Culture, Volume 2, Number 2, Spring 2002.
Black Women In Delaware’s History, by Carol Hoffecker University of Delaware and Annette Woolard of Historical Society of Delaware, University of Delaware, 1997.
Centennial Exhibition Digital Collection, CEDC No. c110290.
Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream, by Ann Cooper Funderburg, published by Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1995.
Dairy Queen History Curls Through Area, by Marcy Norton, January 26, 1998, Quad-Cities Online,    http;//www.qconline.com/progress98/business/prqueen2.html, an internet web site.
The Experienced English Housekeeper, by Elizabeth Raffald, (Manchester: Printed by J. Harrep), 1769. First Edition.
Food In History, by Reay Tannahill, published by Stein and Day, 1973.
Harvest of the Cold Months – The Social History of Ice and Ices, by Elizabeth David, published by Viking – The Penguin Group, 1995.
History of Ice Cream – Let’s Eat (History and Orgin of your Favorite Foods), Pastry Wiz.
Ice cream has a complicated but fascinating history, Mister Gel.
Ice Cream History and Folklore, University of Guelph, Dairy Science & Technology.
Ice – Plain and Fancy, by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976, reprint of the 1885 edition published in London.
I Scream, You Scream, by Brennen Jensen, Baltimore City Paper.
Journal of William Black, 1744, by William Black,  Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 1, No. 3 (1877), pp. 233-249.
Le Procope, Bistro/Restaurant/Cafe.
Let’s Talk Food: Chill out. with a Popsicle, by Doris Reynolds, Naples Daily News.
Mothers and Daughter of Inventors: Notes for a Revised History of Technology” pg 76, by Autumn Stanley, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1993.
Much Depends On Dinner, by Margaret Visser, published by Grover Press, 1986.
Panati’s Extraordinary Origins Of Everyday Things, by Charles Panati, published by Harper & Row, 1987.
Peanuts, Popcorn, Ice Cream, Candy and Soda Pop and How They Began, by Solveig Paulson Russell, published by Abingdon Press, 1970.
Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, published by Tsunami Press, 1994.
Red-Flannel Hash and Shoo-fly Pie – American Regional Foods and Festivals, by Lila Perl, published by The World Publishing Company, 1965.
Royal Cookbook – Favorite Court Recipes From The World’s Royal Families, published by Parents’ Magazine Press.
Since Eve Ate Apples – Quotation on Feasting, Fasting & Food, by March Egerton, published by Tsunami Press, 1994.
The American and His Food, by Richard Osborn Cummings, published by Arno Press and The New York Times, 1970.
The Dictionary of American Food & Drink, by John F. Mariani, published by Ticknor & Fields, 1983.
The Exquisite Table – A History of French Cuisine, by Esther B. Aresty, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Indianapolis/New York,  1980.
The FoodBook, by James Trager, published by Grossman Publishers, 1970.
The Food Chronology, by James Tager, published by Henry Holt and Company, 1995.
The Great American Ice Cream Book, by Paul Dickson, published by Galahad Books, 1972.
The History of Ice Cream, MakeIceCream.com.
The Ice Cream Connection, by Ralph Pomeroy, Paddington Press Ltd, 1975.
The Kid Who Invented The Popsicle, by Don L. Wulffson, publsihed by Puffin Books, 1997.
The Night 2000 Men Came To Dinner, by Douglas G. Meldrum, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994.
The Ocean View Nickle Tour – Part VII, by Albert Doumar.
The Secret Life of Food, by Martin Elkort, published by Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1991.
Victorian London – Publications – Social Investigation/Journalism – Street Life in London – by J. Thomson and Adolphe Smith, 1877.
Was This the Largest Ice Cream Social of the Civil War? by Harold Screen, The Ice Screamer, Issue #102, May, 2004. Also The Baltimore Country Public Library, the Baltlimore County Historical Society and the Maryland State Archives.




Ice Cream    Ice Cream & Ices History   

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  1. Junie Decuir

    Great site. cheers for showing us.


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