Did you know that every time you enjoyed a frozen treat, you were eating something Roman Emperors and even King Solomon enjoyed as well?
Ice cream goes back centuries, and the concept of a cold icy sweet goes back even further to a time before freezers and ice machines existed. In fact, Ice Cream is as close to a time machine as you can get – From Alexander the Great enjoying crushed ice flavored with nectar and honey to Nero Claudius Caesar sending men out to gather snow and mixing it with fruit.
The treat evolved through the ages, making appearances in Catherine de Medici’s court in the 16th century with recipes obtained from Marco Polo’s travels. Sherbet, first witnessed by Polo in the Far East, quickly made its way to Europe where dairy entered the mix.
From England to France, frozen sweets were a royal indulgence that didn’t become widely available until 1660 when the very first Paris café, Procope introduced “Cream Ice” to the masses.
Journey to America
Ice cream was as an exotic delicacy for our founding fathers.
Records show that the lavish dessert was enjoyed only on the rarest of occasions, such as James Madison’s inauguration banquet or large gatherings at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home. Washington even spent close to $200, a small fortune back then, for two pots of ice cream in the summer of 1790.
Back then, it was a dessert enjoyed by the American elite. It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that ice crème houses were pioneered in Northern cities like Baltimore. It took the advancement of technology to make freeze houses create an ice cream boom.
Afterwards, American innovation took over and ice cream could be found on trucks, in soda shops and every street corner. This made it possible to create flavored ice cream and ice cream platters such as the Sundae.
During World War II, ice cream was used as a morale-booster for the Allied Forces. In fact, the various military branches competed to see which could best serve the treat to its troops. In 1945, sailors in the pacific came up with a “floating ice cream parlor” on their ship.
During the war, dairy products were heavily rationed in the American mainland. As a result, the end of the war inspired major celebrations with ice cream served in copious amounts. Now a cornerstone of the American identity, ice cream was the dessert and demand for it sky-rocketed in the months and years that followed.
All of the sudden, ice cream parlors and ice cream trucks stormed the streets of the American suburbs and became a staple among children and teenagers alike. Exotic flavors and varying styles captivated the imaginations of American dessert chefs, making ice cream even bigger and better than before.
Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t include some form of ice cream on their dessert menu. It’s usually served with other sweet American favorites, including brownies and cookies.
Across all living generations, ice cream brings up fond memories and creates new ones for families all around the world.
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