The origins of ice cream have been known to reach as far back as the second century B.C., though no specific inventor nor date of origin can be pinpointed for its discovery. Alexander the Great was known to enjoy ice and snow flavored with nectar and honey. The Bible mentions that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during harvest time. It was also said that during the time of the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar would frequently send his runners into the mountains to retrieve snow, which was then flavored with an assortment of honey, fruit, and juices.
Over an entire millenum later, Marco Polo returns home to Italy after a trip from the Far East with a recipe that resembles what we is now known as sherbet. Historians believe that this recipe evolved into what we now know as ice cream sometime within the 16th Century. England was credited with discovering ice cream around that same time, perhaps even slightly sooner. “Cream Ice”, as it was known, was a regular at the table of Charles I throughout the 17th century. The French were introducted to similar frozen dessrts in 1553 when Catherine de Medici married Henry the II of France. Around 1660 ice cream was made available to the general public. Cafe Procope was the first to intoduce a recipe blending milk, cream, butter and eggs in downtown Paris.
Ice Cream in America
Ice Cream was first officially documented in the New World in a letter written by Governor William Bladen in Maryland, 1744. The very first advertisement marketing ice cream appeared in the New York Gazette on May 12th, 1777, announcing that ice cream would be available “almost every day” from the confectioner Philip Lenzi. Records still intact from the era state that our first president, George Washington, spent over $200 on ice cream during the summer of 1790 in Chatham Street, New York. The inventory records taken from Mount Vernon after George Washington’s death also revealed to us “two pewter ice cream pots.” It was said that President Thomas Jefferson also had a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy resembling a modern-day Baked Alaska. Dolley Madison also served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President James Madison’s second inaugural dinner in the White House.
Up until around 1800, ice cream remained a rare and exotic treat only enjoyed by the elite. Around that time came the invention of insulated ice houses. The manufacturing of ice cream soon became a booming industry, pioneered by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell in 1851. Like many other American industries, the production of cream increased because of technological innovations, including mechanical refrigeration, steam power, the homogenizer, packing machines, electric power and motors, and new freezing processes and equipment. Motorized delivery vehicles also dramatically changed the ice cream industry. The culmination of all these ongoing technological advances is that the annual production of frozen dairy in the United States reached around 1.6 billion gallons.