Ice Cream Comes to America (Part II)
ICE CREAM COMES TO AMERICA
“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whether, but just to enjoy your ice cream while it is on your plate - that’s my philosophy.”
Thornton Wilder, ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’, 1942
As we have seen, in the Old World, the making of ice cream or sorbets depended on a supply of ice. Colonial and Federal America was no exception. Certainly ice was available during the winter but only the wealthy could afford to build and maintain icehouses. As a result ice cream in the Colonies, similarly to the Old World, was enjoyed only by the very wealthy.
Ice was gathered from frozen ponds and lakes in winter, and stored in ice houses. An ice house was an insulated underground chamber with drainage. Usually the ice blocks were deposited in the icehouses by people who crawled on all fours with the ice on their backs. This was done because to reach the deposit area, a person had to pass through narrow underground corridors to the icehouse itself. Removal was the same process in reverse. Usually layers of straw separated the blocks of ice to facilitate the removal of the ice blocks.
It is known that many of the plantations had icehouses including plantations in Colonial Virginia. Hence the plantation owners, their families, and their guests enjoyed iced drinks, frozen desserts, and yes ice cream, throughout the summer. For most of the Colonists ice was a luxury beyond their means.
There was an icehouse in eighteenth-century Williamsburg in a garden behind the Governor’s Palace. Another icehouse of note from the 18th Century is the Robert Morris icehouse built in 1781. In the year 2000 archeologists uncovered the Morris icehouse which is located in a corner of the President’s House property in Philadelphia. This 18th century ice house was reburied and lies beneath the floor of the new Liberty Bell Center.
To learn more about the structure of an icehouse and in particular the Morris icehouse, please go to: http://www.ushistory.org/presidentshouse/history/ icehouse.htm
Ice cream began to appear in the Colonies during the first half of the 18th century. The first known mention of ice cream being served is found in the Journal of William Black. The date was 1744. A group of Virginia commissioners stopped at the home of Governor Thomas Bladen in Maryland, where they were served ice cream made from milk and strawberries. William Black was one of the guests who in 1777 wrote “… after which came a Dessert no less Curious; Among the Rarities of which it was Compos’d, was some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most Deliciously”.
George Washington is said to have eaten ice cream in 1782 at a party in Philadelphia, given by the French minister. It is a myth that Martha Washington invented ice cream however she did serve ice cream at Mount Vernon. We do know that in 1784 George bought a ‘cream machine for ice’ for the price of $200 (a huge amount for those times). The same year an icehouse was built on his estate.
It is also believed that the wife of Alexander Hamilton, Betsy, served ice cream to George Washington in 1789. From then on, George served ice cream at his Thursday dinners.
Thomas Jefferson learned to make ice cream while he was in France as Secretary of State. Upon his return home in 1789, he brought a ‘cream machine for ice’ and a recipe. The recipe can be found in the American Treasures section of the Library of Congress.
Dolly Madison, wife of President James Madison, heard of a new dessert made in Wilmington by a freed slave (Aunt Sallie Shadd). To satisfy her curiosity Dolly went to Wilmington to try out the new dessert sensation made from frozen cream, sugar, and fruit. She enjoyed the ice cream so much that it was served at her husband’s Second Inauguration Ball in 1813.
According to existing records, in 1770 ice cream made its debut in N.Y. at a Gelateria (ice cream shop) established by Giovanni Bosio, an Italian immigrant.
In 1774 another immigrant Filippo Lenzi, made the first public advertisement for ice cream. He notified the public that he had just arrived from London and would be offering jams, jellies, pastries, sugar plums, ICE CREAM, and other delicacies.
By the 19th Century Philadelphia was considered the ice cream capital of the USA because of the quantity of ice cream produced there, the large number ice cream ‘houses’, and the tasty ice cream called ‘Philadelphia’.
The year 1843 was a very good year for the world of ice cream lovers. On September 9, 1843 Nancy M. Johnson was given patent No. 3254 for her recently invented hand-cranked ice cream freezer! Her basic design is still used today. The invention of this machine marked a revolution in the history of ice cream. From now on anyone could make delicious ice cream at home and more importantly, it led to the first wholesale ice cream business!
The first wholesale ice cream business in the USA was opened on June 15, 1851 in Baltimore, MD, by Jacob Fussell. Jacob was a milk dealer and needed to find a way to sell his cream. The solution was to produce and sell ice cream on a large scale. He used large replicas of the Nancy M. Johnson cranks. By 1909 the Fussell factory was making 30 million gallons of ice cream annually. Today Fussell is considered the father of American ice cream industry.
July 12, 1854 may have been the day when the largest ice cream social of the Civil War occurred. The following is quoted from: http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/IceCream/Ic eCreamHistory.htm
“Was This the Largest Ice Cream Social of the Civil War? by Harold Screen, The Ice Screamer, Issue #102, May, 2004. Source material: The Baltimore Country Public Library, the Baltlimore County Historical Society and the Maryland State Archives:
On the morning of July 12th, Johnson received word that Federal reinforcements were on their way and decided to return to Virginia but on their way home they passed by Painters Mill, the Owings Mills (then Owens Mill), Maryland, location of an ice cream factory. The employees were loading ice cream on a boxcar for delivery to Baltimore when the Confederates arrived. General Johnson allowed his men to help themselves to these frozen vittles (typical activity of the Civil War - living off the land). Many of his men were from the mountains of southwest Virginia and had never seen ice cream before. Its reported that the soldiers pressed every available cup, pail and tin cup into service, some even used their hats to enjoy this unexpected treat.”
The Civil War is not the only instance where ice cream was part of the military story, ice cream is also associated with WWII. During 1941 and 1945 for every pilot rescued from the water by an escort destroyer, the rescuing ship would be given a twenty-gallon reward of ice cream! Ice cream was one of the ways that group morale was maintained.
The following is another quote from: http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/IceCream/Ic eCreamHistory.htm
“In 1945, the Navy commissioned the worlds first "floating ice cream parlour" for service in the Western Pacific. The parlor was a refrigerated concrete barge, built at a cost of over one million dollars, that was capable of producing ten gallons of ice cream every seven seconds. The barge had no engine of it's own, but was towed around by tugs and other ships. It's sole responsibility was to produce ice cream for US sailors in the Pacific region.
Sources: World War II in the Pacific, Special Ships and The United States Navy Then and Now”
Ice Cream Cones
There are many stories about who invented the first ice cream cone and where it first made its appearance. I will let the historians decide who gets the credit for inventing the cone. We do know that the edible cone made its appearance at the first world fair held in the USA. It was the Centennial Exhibition which was held in 1876 in Philadelphia, to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
While many claimed to have invented the cone, it was the immigrant Italo Marchiony (Marchioni) who obtained the patent for having invented the machine to bake the cones as we know them today. Italo applied for the patent on September 22, 1903 and on December 15, 1903 patent Number 746971 was issued to him. Marchiony started his business in Hoboken, N.J. and by 1924 ice cream cone production reached 245 million.
There is a lot more that I could write on the ice cream subject but I will finish with the story of the person who invented the Popsicle.
“ In 1905, the Popsicle was invented by an eleven-year-old Frank Epperson. Frank Epperson was only 11 years old when he invented the originally named Epsicle. He had left his fruit flavored soda outside on the porch with a stir stick in it. The drink froze to the stick and tasted good. It took 18 more years in 1923 for Epperson to apply for a patent for a "frozen ice on a stick" called the Epsicle ice pop, which his children re-named the Popsicle. In 1925, Frank Epperson sold his famous Popsicle to the Joe Lowe Company of New York. Good Humor now owns the rights to the Popsicle.”
(Read more at http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/08/th e-popsicle-was-invented-by-an-11-year-old/#od0zyPh CAYY0FVZb.99 )
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month (July 17, 2011) as National Ice Cream Day.
"But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold."
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes