4 Fun Facts About the History of Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of the world’s most popular desserts, but it wasn’t always so well-known or easy to find. In fact, it had to take a long and arduous journey through history before reaching modern superstardom. If you’ve ever wondered who invented ice cream or where in the world it came from, don’t worry — we’ve wondered that too, and we’ve done the digging to find out!

Read on to learn more about the history of ice cream, and if you’re looking for a commercial ice cream and yogurt maker for your food establishment, the Swirl Freeze machine is the solution for you! Our all-in-one frozen dessert maker is a froyo machine, industrial ice cream maker, and malt machine all in one. It can create thousands of custom-blended frozen treats, so no matter what your customers are craving, you can delight their taste buds with Swirl Freeze! Contact us to learn more or to inquire about financing options for your business today.

1: Most Ice Cream Origin Stories are Myths

As it turns out, figuring out where ice cream came from is a challenging task. That’s because many of the most oft-repeated ice cream origin stories were fabricated by ice cream sellers in the nineteenth century who were looking for an interesting marketing angle to push their product. These early ice cream entrepreneurs spread tales like:

Myth: Ancient Romans created early ice cream from mountain-top snow.

Reality: Early Roman emperors did send runners to fetch ice from mountain peaks, and they did mix chipped ice and snow with various sweeteners and flavorings to create a dessert. However, this water-and-sugar mixture lacked dairy, making it an early form of shaved ice rather than ice cream.

Myth: Marco Polo brought back ice cream to Europe from China.

Reality: Although most historians agree that the Chinese were the first inventors of an iced dairy product and that Marco Polo visited China in the thirteenth century, Polo makes no mention of ice-cream-like treats in any of his writings.

However, Marco Polo may still have contributed to the spread of ice cream in a subtler way. It is likely that he brought back knowledge of how to freeze things using a combination of ice and salt.

Myth: Martha Washington invented ice cream in America.

Reality: Unless she possessed a time machine that she never revealed to anyone, there is simply no way that Lady Washington is the original inventor of ice cream. That’s because the earliest known recipe for ice cream appeared in an English cookbook called Mrs Mary Eales Receipts in 1718, 13 years before Martha Washington was born.

2: Ice Cream May Have Started in China

So, if not from Martha Washington, where did ice cream come from?

Short answer: probably China. The oldest known description of a frozen milk product comes from Chinese writings of the seventh century, and another document from the twelfth century offers an additional reference to frozen milk.

Beyond these two instances, evidence supporting ancient Chinese ice cream is scarce, and even if this product did exist, it’s difficult to say whether it resembled modern ice cream in any form.

3. Early Americans Were Awestruck by Ice Cream

You probably can’t remember the first time you tried ice cream, but can you imagine having that experience for the very first time? Can you imagine hearing about ice cream for the very first time?

Ice cream is so popular today that it’s difficult to imagine a world in which it didn’t exist — but only a few centuries ago, that was the world of a man named William Black. There were no modern freezers and no ice machines. Eating frozen foods in summertime was a luxury that only the rich could afford. Very few Americans even knew that a frozen treat called ice cream existed.

In May of 1744, William attended a dinner hosted by the governor of Maryland. Imagine his astonishment upon being served a cold, sweet dish in the early summer heat! This was the first known instance of ice cream being served in the United States, and it left an impression on the guests who attended. Black later wrote about “a Dessert no less curious: Among the Rarities of which it was Compos’d, was some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most Deliciously.”

4. Apparently, Oyster Ice Cream Was a Thing

By the end of the eighteenth century, the love of ice cream was beginning to take hold throughout the world. In America, the favorite flavors of the day seem to have included strawberry, vanilla, and raspberry. Documentation also exists for coffee, tea, pistachio, chocolate, and even parmesan varieties of ice cream!

The most questionable flavor of choice? Oyster. Mary Randolph’s cookbook includes a recipe for “oyster ice cream,” but it probably would not be considered ice cream today. Instead, it’s likely that as ice cream grew in popularity, the term was used as shorthand for frozen foods of all kinds before they became widely available.

In this case, the dish was essentially frozen, unsweetened oyster chowder — a novelty in the summer months. We probably won’t be adding this one to our menu of Swirl Freeze creations.

We Scream for Ice Cream With Swirl Freeze!

Suddenly feeling a craving for (non-oyster) ice cream? Ready to add delicious desserts to the menu of your catering business or food establishment? The Swirl Freeze all-in-one dessert machine is a great addition to new and established businesses alike!

With the Swirl Freeze, you can quickly and easily create thousands of custom-blended desserts to satisfy every customer craving. Have them choose from a combination of bases and mix-in-toppings, then watch the Swirl Freeze machine blend dessert dreams into reality! When you’re ready for the next customer, simply press the reset button and watch as the “cyclone jet” rinses out the mixing cone in seconds, preparing it to create a totally new custom treat.

It’s not 1744 anymore, and ice cream has come a long way. Everyone deserves to find a dessert that they love, and with the Swirl Freeze, you can do just that for your customer base! Give them something to love and keep them coming back for more — contact us today to learn how you can get a Swirl Freeze machine for your business.

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