History of Ice Cream
Jump to :-
Predecessors of Ice Cream
The 1st "Iced Cream"
19th Century Ice Cream
20th Century Ice Cream
Ice Cream Cones
History of World Cuisines
Whilst there are all sorts of spectacular
stories about the origins of ice cream including Marco Polo bringing it to
Europe from China or Catherine de' Medici
introducing it to France there doesn't seem to be any real evidence to
substantiate and of these theories.
It is true that various ancient civilisations used ice in desserts and that the
Ancient Persians even had the equivalent of giant "refrigerators" known as yakhchals
which were naturally cooled structures used to store ice through the
summer which had been gathered in the winter from nearby mountains
but what these peoples ate were more akin to ices rather than ice cream.
Evidence of the predecessors of today's ice cream being made
was in China
during the Tang period(618-907 A.D.), when milk was heated and
allowed to ferment to something similar to 'yoghurt' which was then mixed with flour
camphor and chilled before being served. However the first technical
description of ice making using various salts which were mixed with ice to get
low enough temperatures to freeze liquids in a container, was by an Arab medical
historian Ibn Abu Usaybi c1230-1270 A.D.
The process didn't reach Europe until 1503, in Italy where it was
initially considered more of a magician's trick and the results were not used for
edible food until the 1660s when sorbets were eaten in Naples, Florence, Paris and Spain.
The first ice cream made with milk didn't appear until 1664
in Naples and in the UK, ice cream was served at a banquet at
Windsor Castle in 1671 however it was such a rarity, that only the guests
on King Charles II's table got to sample it. It was after this time that wealthy people
wishing to emulate their king, built ice
houses on their estates when ice which was gathered in winter from lakes, ponds
and rivers was stored under straw and bark, until the summer when it was used
to make 'iced creams' using the salt freezing method so the dubious ice
was never actually eaten. The first recipe in
English did not appear until 1718.
The making of custard based ice cream using egg yolks appeared in
France in the middle of the 1700s and this is the origin of custard
based ice cream and was introduced to America in the early 1800s.
Ice cream became readily available to the masses in the UK in
the early part of the 1800s due to the importation of ice from Norway, Canada
and the US in the early 19th century.
In America, around 1832, Augustus Jackson, an African American confectioner, not
only created multiple ice cream recipes, but he also invented a superior
technique to manufacture ice cream.
The ice cream machine was introduced in 1843 in both England
and America. This new contraption consisted of
a wooden bucket filled with ice and salt, a handle which
rotated and a central container which would be surrounded by the ice mixture and
which would contain the ice cream mixture. The churning action produced ice cream
which had a smooth texture.
Italy continued to be the European leaders in ice cream making and Italian immigrants to the UK
expertise, setting up businesses selling ice cream
often wrapped in waxed paper and known to the English as Hokey pokey - a play on
the Italian phrase 'ecco un poco' meaning 'here is a little' .
They were also sold in small glasses known as a penny lick which were wiped clean and re-used.
However due to public health concerns, these were made illegal in 1926 in
At the end of the 19th Century, mechanical refrigeration utilising gas or
electricity took the ice cream industry to new heights as it became possible to
transport and store ice cream.
The second half of the 20th
century saw the popularity of ice cream proliferate worldwide mainly due to cheaper refrigeration.
Not only were there more outlets selling it, but there was also an explosion of flavours
Another 20th century development was the introduction of soft ice cream. A
team of chemical researchers in Britain (which somewhat surprisingly included
ex-prime minister Margaret Thatcher) discovered a method of doubling the amount of air in ice
cream, enabling manufacturers to use less ingredients which reduced their costs.
The airy lighter texture of soft ice cream was a hit with consumers in
particular when it was "piped" into a cone directly from soft ice cream
However, as with many new ideas, in the 1980s, old-style thicker ice creams made
a come-back with brands such as Ben and Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs taking the
market by storm.
The first recording of cones being used to serve ice cream
was by an Englishwoman called Mrs Marshall in her cookery book "Fancy
Ices of 1894" - 10 years before the St. Louis World fair
which many previously thought was its birthplace.