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A History of Ice Cream

It is a fact; many people love to eat ice cream. Perhaps because of its popularity there has been much debate over its origins. Most historians believe that ice cream was not "thought up" or invented deliberately, but rather came about as a result of experimenting with other types of food preparation combined with the desire to eat icy and cool foods in the heat.

Children Eating Ice Cream

Ice cream may have been invented in several different places. Then slowly spread the whole world over. One thing is certain: there are many different stories surrounding the origins of ice cream. One story begins with Charles I of England. In legend, he had his cook think of a new after dinner desert. The cook came up with a way to freeze cream that was made sweet. This was such a huge hit with the dinner guests that the cook was sworn to secrecy so that only the king would be able to serve this delicious treat at his table. When Charles had his head removed by act of Parliament, the cook told the secret of the ice cream to all who wanted to know.

That tale certainly adds an air of mystery to the world of ice cream. Earlier, the Roman emperor Nero Claudius Caesar is thought to have mixed snow and fruit drinks to make something similar to ice cream or at least an Icee. Perhaps he consumed this ancient delicacy to keep off the heat as he fiddled in the midst of a burning Rome!

Other accounts have Marco Polo finding ice cream when he was in China. On his return to Italy, he eagerly shared the recipe with people there. The story goes that the news of the recipe spread like wildfire and seeped into the cultures of many different countries, perhaps helping to fuel the Renaissance.

No matter how ice cream got its start, it certainly did catch on. As people got to know the process, recipes started to develop and change in order to produce the best results. This fine-tuning really got going during the 17th century when it was discovered that the best way to get the temperature of the cream down was to add salt to the ice surrounding the container.

The product was originally made for the very wealthy. It was at this time that ice cream vendors first began to ply their trade. These vendors usually didn't sell much in bulk because the process took quite a while. When ice cream began to catch on in the new world, the frozen treat was made mostly by confectioners and sold in their stores, as well as in retail outlets, restaurants, saloons and parlors. Thankfully, the invention of the ice cream machine allowed ice cream to be made and sold more efficiently. With the advent of technology ice cream became affordable to the masses.

The first ice cream maker was developed in the middle of the 19th century. This correlates with refrigeration techniques that were discovered about this time. Jacob Fussell began mass commercial production of Ice Cream in the 1850s and has earned the name, "father of the American Ice Cream Industry.1" Yet more people were able to enjoy ice cream as national ice cream production in the United States in 1859 was estimated at 4,000 gallons. In a mere ten years output had leapt to 24,000 gallons. By 1899 it topped five million. Now almost any American could afford to treat themselves to an ice cream cone.

Finally, the ease with which ice cream could be produced spurred on leaps in quality and variety in flavors so that today it has become the dessert of choice in many places around the world.

Next page: Make Your Own Ice Cream


1. Referencing article previously located at: http://www.iaicv.org/memories/history_of.htm called IAICV History of Ice Cream
2. http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/17700/17772/ice_cream_17772.htm


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