The Chinese have been credited with inventing the tool to make sorbet or ice cream as we know it today. They started by mixing in the ingredients, heating them, and then cooling them at below freezing temperatures. The tale continues that Marco Polo visited and passed on the techniques to Italy, where they altered it to make what is known as gelato.
Due to lack of modern-day refrigeration, it was a hefty task to produce ice cream. Many times, slaves ventured in to the mountains to retrieve snow, which was stored under ground or in brick ice houses to keep cool. It was an expensive treat, which made it exclusive to royalty until about the 16-1700s.
During the wedding of Italian duchess Catherine de' Medici to the Duc d’Orléans in 1533, it has been rumored that Catherine brought Italian chefs over to France in order to serve ice cream in honor of their wedding.
The first traces of published recipes of ice cream begin in the 1600s. The Oxford English Dictionary recognized ice cream for the first time in 1744. In Colonial America, ice cream was introduced by Quakers and eventually enjoyed by early presidents such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. At inaugural ball of President James Madison, his First Lady Dolley Madison served ice cream as a treat.
The Industrial Age played a large part in the mass production of ice cream. In the 1800's inventions like the small-scale, hand-cranked ice cream freezer by Nancy Johnson set a new standard. The American sweet tooth grew with the innovative ice cream twists that appeared on the scene: ice cream sundae, ice cream soda, and the ice cream cone developed in the early 20th century were among the more popular versions.
The World’s Fair is said to have been the birthplace of the ice cream cone. Although there is no 'hard proof' other than that of folk lore, the story goes that when the ice cream booth ran out of cardboard to serve its ice cream on, the neighboring waffle stand gave them waffles to use. The result: the waffle cone.
There were even instances of ice cream parlors replacing bars and saloons during prohibition as a place for Americans to come together and socialize.
Throughout the 20th century, ice cream has taken on a variety of forms and been modified in many ways, but it’s ability to create a sense of instant joy still holds true today. Ice cream is known as a carefree, youthful treat that can be savored by all.