Ice cream is a dessert staple in the United States, and it’s hard to imagine a time we couldn’t enjoy a cool treat on a hot day. But everything has to start somewhere, and according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), ice cream dates all the way back to the second century B.C.!
Ice cream as we know and love it today includes three basic elements: milk, cream, and sugar. But in the days of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire, flavored snow and ice was the closest recorded concoction to this sweet treat. Honey, nectar, fruits, and juices were used to turn snow into a delicious dessert.
The next phase of ice cream’s evolution picks up with Marco Polo, many centuries after the days of flavored snow. The explorer obtained a recipe for a sherbert-like dessert from the Far East, and circa the sixteenth century, this became what modern minds would recognize as ice cream. According to the IDFA, “cream ice” could be found in England and France around the same time. Interestingly, the dessert remained privileged fare until 1660, when a French café introduced ice cream to the public using a recipe with milk, cream, butter, and eggs. Forget “nectar of the gods”– it appears that ice cream is the dessert of royalty!
Welcome to America
Ice cream makes its first appearance in the American history books in the eighteenth century– right around the time of the Revolutionary War. No wonder ice cream is a popular Fourth of July treat! In fact, even George Washington reportedly had a craving for the dessert, spending two hundred dollars on ice cream the summer of 1790. That’s worth approximately six thousand dollars today!
Ice cream production made its official debut with the start of the American Industrial Revolution. The IDFA states, “Ice cream production increased because of technological innovations, including steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, and new freezing processes and equipment.” The following decades would bring ice cream soda, soda fountain shops, and ice cream sundaes.
World War II brought enormous popularity to the sweet treat, both abroad and at home. With the end of the war and its rationing, America celebrated with ice cream– according to the IDFA, the country ate more than twenty quarts per person in 1946!
Today, knowing ice cream’s long history only makes us more appreciative of the delicious dessert we enjoy on a regular basis. We love handcrafting classic and creative flavors for our community– and we hope you love enjoying them!