The history of ice cream
In the 18th century cream, milk, and egg yolks began to feature in the recipes of previously dairy-free flavoured ices, resulting in ice cream in the modern sense of the word. The 1751 edition of The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse features a recipe for raspberry cream ice. 1768 saw the publication of L’Art de Bien Faire les Glaces d’Office by M. Emy, a cookbook devoted entirely to recipes for flavoured ices and ice cream.
Ice cream was introduced to the United States by colonists who brought their ice cream recipes with them. Confectioners, many of whom were Europeans, sold ice cream at their shops in New York and other cities during the colonial era. Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were known to have regularly eaten and served ice cream. First Lady Dolley Madison is also closely associated with the early history of ice cream in the United States.
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.
In 1843, Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia was issued the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer. The invention of the ice cream soda gave Americans a new treat, adding to ice cream’s popularity. This cold treat was probably invented by Robert Green in 1874, although there is no conclusive evidence to prove his claim.
Several food vendors claimed to have invented the ice cream cone at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO, and reliable evidence proves that the ice cream cone was popularized at the fair. However, Europeans were eating cones long before 1904.
Ice cream became popular throughout the world in the second half of the 20th century after cheap refrigeration became common. There was an explosion of ice cream stores and of flavours and types. Vendors often competed on the basis of variety. Howard Johnson’s restaurants advertised “a world of 28 flavors.” Baskin-Robbins made its 31 flavors (”one for every day of the month”) the cornerstone of its marketing strategy. The company now boasts that it has developed over 1000 varieties.
One important development in the 20th century was the introduction of soft ice cream (like Mr Whippy uses!). A chemical research team in Britain (of which a young Margaret Thatcher was a member) discovered a method of doubling the amount of air in ice cream, which allowed manufacturers to use less of the actual ingredients, thereby reducing costs. This ice cream was also very popular amongst consumers who preferred the lighter texture, and most major ice cream brands now use this manufacturing process. It also made possible the soft ice cream machine in which a cone is filled beneath a spigot on order.
The 1980s saw a return of the older, thicker ice creams being sold as “premium” and “superpremium” varieties. Ben and Jerry’s, Beechdean, and Häagen-Dazs fall into this category.