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Ice Cream History?...Really?

Some stories from ice cream history stretch back millennia. Others just don't have substantial documentation to establish them as fact.

The stories are fun to read. So what's true and what's not? Open up your imagination and you decide!


Ice Cream History Folklore, Legends...and Truth?!

  • No one knows who invented ice cream, but as early as the 400s B.C. people were eating frozen treats! Persian royalty enjoyed ice mixed with fruit and various flavors.
  • Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) is known for his love of snow flavored with nectar and honey.
  • ice cream history

  • The Roman emperor Nero (54-68 A.D.) had ice and snow brought to him from the mountains. Legend has it that if it melted before the slaves returned, they would be executed! Nero even had special rooms built under his palace to store ice. What would he do with it? Eat ice or snow topped with fruit!
  • Marco Polo (1254-1324) tried ice cream while exploring China. He loved it! He brought the idea of ice cream back to his home in Italy.
  • In the 1500s Mughal emperors sent horsemen to bring them ice to make fruit sorbets.
  • In 1533 the Italian Catherine de' Medici married the French King Henry II. She brought Italian chefs with her to France. These chefs made sorbets by flavoring ice. The concept of flavored ice now spread to France!
  • Charles I of England loved to eat "frozen snow!" He wanted to keep this a delicacy for royalty. He paid his ice cream chef a large sum of money to keep the recipe a secret! When Charles I died, the chef shared his secret recipe!


Ice Cream History Mysteries

The ice cream cone. The ice cream sundae. Who invented them? Ice cream history replies, "It's a mystery!" The facts are disputed. Why don't you make the final decision?

Ice Cream Cone and Ice Cream History

In 1896 Italo Marchiony invented an edible dish for holding ice cream. His invention is often just considered the forerunner of the ice cream cone.

ice cream, history

Ice cream history shows that the ice cream cone became popular in America during the 1904 St. Louis World Fair...but to whom should the credit go to for the invention of the ice cream cone?

David Avayou insists that while in France he had seen ice cream served in paper cups. He wanted to improve on the idea and make a cone that people could eat.
So, after some experimentation, he invented the ice cream cone. He started selling them at the World Fair in 1904.

Charles Menches claims that on July 23, 1904 while he was serving ice cream at the St. Louis World Fair, he ran out of plates. He still had more ice cream left! In order to continue his sales, he grabbed a waffle cookie - shaped it into a cone - then placed ice cream inside and on top of this cone. He was in business again!

Ernest Hamwi wasn't an ice cream vendor at all. He made and sold pastries called zalibia (resembles waffles covered in sugar). A man nearby him was selling ice cream at the Fair. The ice cream vendor ran out of dishes. Hamwi offered his pastries as a make-shift dish. The ice cream cone was born! Many historians credit Ernest Hamwi with the invention...but I'll let you make the decision!

This controversy may be fruitless, since some histrians note that edible ice cream cones were being used in Europe in the early 1800s!


Ice Cream Sundae and Ice Cream History

At least 7 cities claim to be the birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae. Two Rivers, Wisconsin and Ithaca, New York are the top competitors for the title. Whatever the case, the Blue Laws played a big role in the development of the Sundae. According to these Laws, it was illegal to sell soda on Sunday.

Two Rivers, Wisconsin 1881
ice cream history

Geore Hallauer came into Edward Berners Ice Cream Parlor on a Sunday and wanted an ice cream soda. Berners couldn't give Hallauer soda because it was Sunday...but Berners had an idea. He started to make an ice cream soda. He put ice cream in a dish and poured chocolate syrup on top...but he didn't put any soda in it!

Berners tried the new treat himself. He liked it so much that he began to sell it in his store. His customers loved the new dish as well! Ice cream soda without the soda!

In the nearby town of Manitowoc, George Giffy heard about the new treat being sold in Two Rivers. He didn't want to be outdone - so he started selling bowls of ice cream topped with syrup too. Giffy decided to only sell this new dessert on Sundays - so he called the treat an "Ice Cream Sunday." Giffy soon realized that people loved this dessert. He started offering it daily. He then changed the name to the "Ice Cream Sundae."

Ithaca, New York 1892

The Reverend of a Unitarian Church, John M. Scott and his church tresurer Chester C. Platt customarily went to Platt's Pharmacy to talk after church on Sunday. On April 3, 1892 Platt decided to create something new for the Reverend and himself. He asked one of his employees to bring them 2 bowls of ice cream topped with cherry syrup and a cherry on top. The two men loved the new treat! In honor of the day it was invented, Scott dubbed the new creation the "Cherry Sunday." Ithaca, New York's claim as the birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae is backed by extensive documentation. It is the home of the first documented Ice Cream Sundae...but is it the home of the first Ice Cream Sundae? I'll let you decide!

The history of ice cream is not just full of legends and mysteries. There are many interesting, well-established Ice Cream History facts and stories.


By Jenn Fraiser

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