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The History of Ice Cream

Updated on September 20, 2014
Chips and mint ice cream
Chips and mint ice cream | Source

Everyone love ice cream

Ice cream is not just a dessert. It is an American icon. It is a favorite memory of childhood and a comfort on lazy days. It cools you on those hot Summer nights and brings families together. Ice cream is served at birthdays, celebrations, and picnics. It has been around for hundreds of years and has become a part of our culture. But how did it get here? Ice cream has an amazing past and is sure to have a surprising future. Let's go back and see how it all started.

Where did it come from?

The Remorse of Nero by John William Waterhouse. 1878
The Remorse of Nero by John William Waterhouse. 1878 | Source

The origin of ice cream has many stories and arguments to go along with it. It is said that back in the 1st Century A.D., the Roman emperor, Nero, would have his servants run up to the mountains to fetch fresh snow and race back to him before it melted so that he could have it topped with fresh fruit. It is also argued that tecnically this was not the start of ice cream because it contained no dairy products. It was more of a sorbet or snow cone.

Other people think that it wasn't actually 'discovered' until the 1600's. Charles I of England always had ice cream served at his table. It was his chef's secret recipe. No one knows for sure if the chef kept it a secret because the king paid him to or if it was because he had his life threatened if he ever told. Either way, in 1649, Charles was beheaded anf the chef spilled the beans. Soon all nobles all over Europe were enjoying ice cream.

National ice cream day is the 3rd Sunday in July!

Coming to America

Even in the 1700's, ice cream was still only associated with the wealthy. When it came to the soon-to-be America, it was cherished by presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who paid $200 for the recipe. James Madison served it at his second inaugural ball. Due to the enormous effort to make ice cream, it was still limited in popularity and quantity.

But, in 1843, Nancy Johnson invented and received a patent for the first hand-crank ice cream maker. She later sold her rights to William Young for only $200.

Ice cream making still didn't become an industry until 1851 when Jacob Fussell, a milk dealer, needed a way to steady the demand for his cream. He decided to turn his cream into ice cream and charge twice as much for it. He had a larger version of the hand-crank machine. That along with his icehouses enabled him to open ice cream plants in New York, Boston, and Washington. In the 20th Century when power and refrigeration advanced, ice cream became a widespread phenomenon.

The old way of getting ice cream.

The old way of getting ice cream.
The old way of getting ice cream.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Here is a very easy recipe.

2 C 2% milk

2 C heavy cream

1 C Sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp peppermint extract

3 drops of green food coloring (optional)

1 C miniature semisweet chocolate chips


In a large bowl, stir together milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla, and peppermint until the sugar is dissolved. Add food coloring.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. About 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. Continue in ice cream maker for another 30 minutes, then spoon into a container and store in freezer for 2 hours. Then enjoy!

Make your own ice cream - get an ice cream maker

Cuisinart ICE-30BCP1 Ice Cream Maker, 2-Qt, Silver
Cuisinart ICE-30BCP1 Ice Cream Maker, 2-Qt, Silver
Housed in brushed stainless steel with an embossed logo, this fully automatic small appliance makes frozen yogurt, sorbet, and homemade ice cream in as little as 25 minutes. The frozen-dessert maker features a heavy-duty motor and a double-insulated freezer bowl that holds up to 2 quarts of frozen dessert at a time. Simply add ingredients, turn the machine on, and frozen drinks and desserts are ready in minutes. Its large ingredient spout allows for easily adding favorite mix-ins, and an instruction book and recipes come included. A fun addition to any birthday party or backyard barbecue, the frozen-dessert maker measures approximately 8-1/4 by 8 by 11-1/4 inches and carries a three-year limited warranty.

At the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes. He teamed up with a waffle vendor and they rolled the waffles into cones. Voila! The world's first ice cream cone was made.

Ben & Jerry's - The beginning of a revolution.

Ben & Jerry's was started by two friends who never planned on becoming businessmen. In 1977, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield took a five dollar correspondence course in ice cream making. With $12,000, they opened their first homemade ice cream shop in 1978 in Burlington. Vermont. The business had it's glitches, but with their unique flavors like Heath Bar Crunch, customers were loyal. They two guys even came up with gimmicks to drive people in. They would have free movie nights and project movies onto a blank wall of their building. In 1981, Ben & Jerry's gained national attention when Time Magazine wrote that they had 'the best ice cream in the world'. Although they started with only 12 flavors, they have released and retired dozens to the ice cream graveyard since then. My personal favorite is Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Today the company employees about 445 employees and has had $132 million in sales. To read more about these entrepreneurs, go check out Wikipedia.

The Future is Now!

Dippin Dots (called the ice cream of the future) was invented in 1988 by Curt Jones, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate. It is made by flash freezing ice cream mix with liquid nitrogen. It comes in great flavors such as banana split, bubble gum, and strawberry cheesecake. The ice cream has to be stored between -70 to -20 F which makes it unconventional for homes. It is sold in retail stores, vending machines, and shopping malls. To read more about this amazing ice cream, click here.

Ice_Cream_Paint | Source

© 2009 Nathalie Roy

Do you love ice cream too? - If you do, don't forget to read my Ice Cream Personality lens!

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    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      8 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I love it -- pretty much every flavor. Interesting lens.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 

      9 years ago from Albany New York

      Ice cream is my favorite dessert. I like to try odd flavors, and salted butter caramel sounds so good.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      9 years ago from Canada

      What a delightful history lesson into the origins of ice cream. I had no idea that a beheading may have been behind the release of the original ice cream recipe. To think that the ice cream recipe may have drifted away in history and never brought out to be enjoyed by commoners and nobility alike. Lol...what a wonderful little ice cream tale you have told.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      9 years ago from San Francisco

      I do, I do, I do. Only last week I bought the Quisinart maker with TWO bowls. Yesterday I made my first batch. Yum. Yum. Yum. Gonna try your mint chocolate chip recipe next time.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love it so much I'm eating it now.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow! One word describes the lens. Very informative and mouth-watering. Thank you. :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very informative, i love learning history behind different foods. Great lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Yummmm... delicious lens. I used to have a little ice cream machine and loved it. :)

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 

      9 years ago

      I love ice cream too... :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love ice cream. Nice lens!

    • Tagsforkids profile image


      9 years ago

      What's not to love? Thanks for the background on it! :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I do love ice cream....immensely.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh yes, I do love ice cream. Interesting article. I bookmarked to try the recipe.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love ice cream.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      10 years ago

      Congrats on your purple star for this lens! I LR'd to my ice cream lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love ice cream!!! Great lens! :)

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      10 years ago

      I remember the first time I tasted coffee ice cream (I am not a coffee drinker) it was truly a spiritual experience.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      10 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      not sure where it came from, but I know where I like to put it....ha! I remember when my Grandma made homemade ice cream. She would put Grape Nuts in it, they taste really good in ice cream.

    • jodijoyous profile image


      10 years ago from New York

      A bit cool here for ice cream now, but this lens is delicious! Blessed!

    • hlkljgk profile image


      10 years ago from Western Mass

      i love making ice cream! ok, and eating it. :)

    • Geekgurl profile image

      Kimberly Hiller 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      The pictures and content in this post is awesome. I'm going to Baskin Robbins now. =)

    • Geekgurl profile image

      Kimberly Hiller 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      The pictures and content in this post is awesome. I'm going to Baskin Robbins now. =)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love ice-creams and this lens is very informative with the history of this delicious recipe. Chocolates and ice-creams find fans all over the world. Between chocolate and ice-cream, it will really become difficult to choose from -- and I love chocolate ice-cream ,..."the best".

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      10 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      You're making me hungry, send over a bite! "Cool" lens, literally.

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 

      10 years ago from Quezon City

      Yes I do, and oh my, what a delightfully yummy page on ice cream! Didn't know there was so much history to it. Dippin dots is great, it's like ice cream and candy in one. ~Blessed~

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I've never heard of Dippin Dots? But I have made homemade icecream (going back to the 1950s) Great Lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens! Learned a heap of things I didn't know. I love how the ice cream cone came about.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      10 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      yes, i love ice cream. but history of ice cream is new to me. thanks for the info.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 

      10 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Nice lens! (And making me scream for ice cream!)... I had heard that ice cream was originally a delicacy served to Chinese emperors back in the 4th and 5th century. No matter, I liked the home-made ice cream my grandparents were made every summer at their farm in Pennsylvania. And I've also tried exotic ice-creams like ube (Filipino-yam), green tea, and wasabi ice cream (acquired tastes!). I've liked, favorited, thumbs-upped, and lensrolled your masterpiece lens! Congrats on a great job!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      10 years ago from UK

      Dippin Dots are new to me but sound very interesting and I enjoyed this entertaining and informative look back at the history of ice cream.

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      10 years ago

      Of course! I had never heard of Dippin Dots before!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Nicely done.

      Yes, I love ice cream.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      10 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Very nice lens. I LOVE ice cream, can't live without it.

    • CCGAL profile image


      10 years ago

      I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • Aquavel profile image


      10 years ago

      I love ice cream on a hot summer day but then I tend to forget about it until I have it again or read a yummy lens like this! Love hot fudge sauce with it too! Great lens!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      When I as a kid the way we got our ice cream was from an ice cream van. Do they still exist? Do they still play music? I could go for a "99' right now. An ice cream cone with a chocolate Cadbury's flake in the middle. Thanks for the lens.

    • GramaBarb profile image


      10 years ago from Vancouver

      Love the old pictures of making ice cream. We had one of those when I was little - we all took turns turning the ice cream crank. The reward was worth the work!

    • ILoveLegosToo profile image

      Tom Fattes 

      10 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Ice cream is a great dessert all year round. From the many flavors to all the toppings. Yum! Yum! Yum!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      10 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Well of course I love ice cream! Funny thing, I never knew anything about its history though.

    • glenbrook profile image


      10 years ago

      This brings back memories. A couple times a year my mom would make homemeade ice cream, and when we went to Sacramento to visit my grandparents I always got to go to Baskin Robbins.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      What a fascinating lens. I love ice-cream but I have always taken ice-cream for granted and never thought about it's origins.

      Excellent topic and very well researched.

    • missbat profile image


      10 years ago

      I'll have to remember to celebrate on July 3rd with some Ben & Jerry's.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      great lens, very interesting!!

    • norma-holt profile image


      10 years ago

      Back with wings. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust


    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      11 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Excellent resource on the History of Ice Cream. Well done! Blessed in an Angel's Last Tango (

    • norma-holt profile image


      11 years ago

      Great lens, I just bought an ice cream machine and used it for the first time yesterday. Lovely presentation and thanks for sharing.


    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      11 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Another very well done lens! Interesting too. Ice cream is definitely one of my Achilles heels.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Love ice cream.

      Great job with this lens.

      A 5

    • puzzlerpaige profile image


      11 years ago

      5 stars from an ice cream lover.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Ahhh, I love Ben & Jerry lol. Cherry Garcia is awesome. Great work on your lens:)

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      11 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      We have an ice cream maker, though I haven't used it in a long time. Ice cream is great. So is your lens. 5*s.

    • Rich-H profile image


      11 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Love ice cream! Great lens. 5*s.


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