Most people know that ice cream’s history goes further back than their own memories of cones at home and sundaes at the park, but not everyone realizes just how long in the making this sweet treat actually was. For more than two millennia, people have been finding ways to curate this cold confection to their exact tastes. All the ice-cream lovers of the world may want to learn more if they want to appreciate their favorite food even more.
A Precursor to Ice Cream
Ice cream may not have existed in 200 BC, but it seems as though China had the right idea by mixing milk, rice, and ice. Of course, there were no freezers back then, but there was a lot of readily available snow for the taking. There are also reports of a frozen milk and flour recipe dating between 600 – 700 AD in China. Painstakingly made for the king with nearly 100 men to assist, it seems as though they were onto something.
European Efforts Towards Ice Cream
Rome, England, and Italy are all believed to have had their own spin on ice cream. Emperors ate flavored snow, and Marco Polo bringing back the more advanced secrets of ice cream straight from China, though by today’s standards these recipes are much closer to sherbet than ice cream. One report claims that Charles I was so protective of his recipe that he bribed his chef every year with 500 pounds to keep it to himself.
Bringing It All Together
Readers of novels like Gone with the Wind may recall that ice cream was a very big happening at plantation parties around the time of the Civil War. By this time, ice cream had been more widely available since the mid-1600s. America was seeing advertisements for the popular dessert by 1777, and apparently, George Washington was quite a fan. At this time, ice cream wasn’t being enjoyed in the edible container that is the cone, though. America would have to wait until the early 1900s to get this no-waste packaging for their ice cream.
Mass manufacturing of ice cream was pioneered by industrial machinery in the 1800s, and started being enjoyed by more than just the upper crust. America saw soda fountains emerge in the late 1800s, creating an entirely new retail establishment. After being criticized for selling these decadent sodas on Sundays by religious leaders, soda fountain owners altered the recipe a little by taking out the carbonation and adding syrup. They also altered the name of the forbidden day to create the sundae close to the turn of the century. Of course, it’s unclear why religious leaders felt that the sundae was so much less indulgent than the soda.
Ice cream may seem like a cherished American staple, but its roots go back to long before the Founding Fathers. Still, America has certainly done plenty to perfect and branch out on the idea. No matter what a person’s tastes are, they’re sure to find a flavor and style that suits them best.