History of Ice Cream Infographic

History of Ice Cream

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It is one of the most popular desserts in the world, but few know the history of ice cream. Many ancient civilizations had some form of ice cream, though it was usually much more crude than it is today. Early Persians and Greeks would eat ice sweetened with fruit or honey as a special delicacy. The Roman Emperor Nero often sent his slaves to gather snow from the mountains to create this iced treat. In the 1300’s, the explorer Marco Polo brought a Chinese ice cream recipe to the European monarchy. Most early ice cream was icy and flavored with fruits, and it was most often consumed by the wealthy and elite. However, it is said that 10th century Arabs were the first to create milk and cream based ice creams flavored with sugar. These would be the precursor to the modern conception of ice cream.

The United States was largely responsible for inventing ice cream as it is today. In the early American colonies, the production of ice cream was a difficult and expensive process. For this reason, it did not become widespread until the 1700’s. In 1768, M. Emy created an entire cookbook of ice cream recipes and treats. In 1812, Dolly Madison served ice cream at her husband’s Inaugural Ball, making it even more popular.

In the mid 1800’s, ice cream production became easier and more streamlined with the help and inventions of Augustus Jackson and Nancy Johnson. Jackson created many recipes and simplified the process of making ice cream. Johnson invented the first manually operated ice cream maker. With this ice cream invention, it became easier and cheaper to produce and sell ice cream.

With the growth of freezers and ice houses, ice cream became more available to the general public. Ice cream parlors and stores began to open throughout the United States, and ice cream was sold in soda parlors alongside other goods. It was in one of these parlors in 1874 that the first ice cream floats were accidentally created by a man named Robert Green. When the parlor ran out of cream Green used ice cream instead, creating a wildly popular dessert that would launch many more ice cream novelties. When Green first created these floats, soda was prohibited on Sundays in many towns. Thus, many parlors began serving ice cream with only the toppings and flavors and without the soda. They were originally spelled ‘Sunday’ but were later changed to ‘Sundae’ as they became more popular and widespread.

Soon, parlors began searching for ways to make ice cream more transportable and early cones and waffle bowls were created., In 1904, at the St. Louis World Fair, a Syrian man created one of the first modern cones in a moment of serendipity. He was selling thin waffles and let a nearby ice cream salesmen use one wrapped in a cone shape.

Soon after, many novelty ice cream products cropped up throughout the country. In 1920, Harry Burt created the Good Humor bar, an ice cream bar dipped in chocolate on a wooden stick. They became an instant sensation, and Burt expanded to shops and ice cream trucks. These trucks became famous and beloved, and the Good Humor bar is still a popular American treat. In 1934, high school teacher Chris Nelson created a similar treat, the Eskimo Pie, a chocolate covered ice cream square. These fusions were immensely popular and remain so today.

Throughout the mid-1900’s, ice cream continued to grow into a huge enterprise. From 1940 to 1960, several gourmet and novelty ice cream stores and companies opened. Many of these companies continue on as chains and popular grocery store confections. Soon, there was new and innovative ice cream invented. Cookies ‘N Cream and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough were invented in 1983 and 1991, respectively, and remain some of the most popular flavors of ice cream. There are many varieties of ice cream today, most of which are beloved by the American population.

Today, ice cream is still evolving and growing. Many food and beverage companies have created their own novelty ice creams and treats. Most restaurants and food establishments offer some form of ice cream as a dessert. Innovative treats like Dippin’ Dots continue to give ice cream fresh appeal. According to the FDA and other government research, the average American consumes about 24 pounds of ice cream a year. Throughout the world, ice cream is consumed almost everywhere, and many countries produce as much or more than the United States. Many countries have their own versions of and slight differences in their ice creams. Many European countries enjoy Gelato, a frozen treat similar to ice cream, but lighter and creamier in texture and taste.