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History of Ice Cream

Tracing the history of ice cream and ice cream-making technology...
The history of ice cream dates back to before the days of modern refrigeration. However, it was a luxury item because making ice cream was quite laborious before modern freezing technology.

Ice cream manufacturers had to cut ice from lakes and ponds during the winter and store it in the ground or in wood-frame icehouses insulated with straw. Then they made ice cream manually, using large bowls packed around the sides with ice and salt. This reduced the temperature of the ingredients. The complex reactions between crushed ice and salt water caused the ingredient mixture to fall just below the freezing point of pure water.

An American by the name of Nancy Johnson invented the hand-cranked churn in 1846. It still employed ice and salt for cooling and made ice cream production possible under a single roof while circumventing the hassles of continuous chilling the product until it reached the consumer. This invention boosted ice cream’s popularity immensely and made it commercially available for the first time.

In 1851, the world’s first commercial ice cream factory launched its operations in Baltimore, Maryland. The proprietor was Jacob Fussell, a dairy farmer who came up with this idea because of the unstable demand for his milk.

This significant event in the history of ice cream made this delicacy available at affordable rates for the first time. Fussell leveraged his monopoly to the hilt, opening more ice cream parlors even in Texas. Many of these survived well into the20th century. However, Fussell finally sold his business.

When German engineer Carl von Linde developed industrial refrigeration during the 1870s, he finally put an end to the need for cutting and storing natural ice. Commercial mass production of ice cream began in all earnest with the perfection of the continuous-process freezer in 1926.

Until the 18th century, ice cream mostly consisted of dairy-free flavored ices cream. Thereafter, products like milk, and egg yolks began to appear in ice cream recipes. This was finally ice cream in the modern sense of the word. In 1751, a woman names Hanna Glasse published a book called The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. This featured a recipe for raspberry cream ice. Later, 1768 saw the publication of a cookbook devoted entirely to recipes for flavored ices and ice cream.

In the United States, ice cream arrived with colonists who brought their ice cream recipes along with them. During the Colonial Era, many European confectioners sold ice cream at their shops in New York and other cities. Among some of their regular customers were Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson themselves!

Ice cream became even more widely available after the 1830s, which saw the introduction of ice-making machines. Ice cream soda, reportedly invented by Robert Green, followed circa 1874. There is no documented evidence to prove that the credit goes to Green, however.

In the 19th century, the ice cream sundae made its appearance. Yet again, many people claimed to have pioneered this all-time favorite ice cream concoction. The 20th century saw the introduction of the ice cream cone and banana split. In this case at least, there is proof that the Italian Italo Marchioni invented the ice cream cone.
By Arun Chitnis
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