A Sweet History of Ice Cream

All in all, there are about 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream and similar desserts produced in the United States every single year. But have you ever wondered where those cool and creamy treats have come from?

Here is a quick history of ice cream to get those taste buds craving a sundae.

A.D. 54-68: Iced desserts were a luxury in ancient times, and Roman Emperor Nero would send slaves into the high mountains to mix snow with honey, nectar, and fruit pulp in small paper cups.

A.D. 618–907: During this period, the Chinese Tang dynasty created the first commercialized recipe for ice cream, and it contained heated fermented milk, camphor, and flour. This dish was taken so seriously that the founder of the dynasty would keep 94 ice men on hand to always ensure there was enough of the frozen treat to go around.

1744: The next major development in the history of ice cream came nearly 1,000 years later. American colonists brought to the New World their modernized version of ice cream. The first written account of ice cream in the United States was when a Scottish colonist served Maryland's Governor a mixture of iced strawberries and milk.

1782: George Washington wrote in his journal how he and his wife Martha had a "cream machine for ice" that they kept in their kitchen for cool treats during the summertime.

1843: Before this year, ice cream was typically made by the pot freezer method, but on September 9, 1843, ice cream aficionado Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia got her patent approved for an artificial freezer. Her design is still used today and features a tub, cylinder, lid, dasher, and crank.

1851: The first commercial ice cream factory was opened in Baltimore, Maryland, by dairyman Jacob Fussell. He would sell his surplus ice cream in containers with lids to surrounding towns, and his business boomed. Fussel is known today to be the father of the wholesale ice cream industry.

1880: The first ice cream sundae was developed in Buffalo, New York. So you can thank the upstate New York city for those old-fashioned soda shops and milkshakes in every flavor.

1939: Ice cream started to be sold in stores, and by World War II it had become a symbol of America. So much so, in fact, that Mussolini banned ice cream in Italy because it reminded him too much of the United States! U.S. soldiers crossing the Atlantic to Europe would often be served the snack in paper ice cream cups with lids.

So the next time you pop off the lids of your favorite ice cream container, think back to this colorful history to savor every bite!

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