The history of ice cream has been a long-disputed subject among ice cream enthusiasts. Many countries have tried to claim the invention of this popular dessert as their own story, yet none achieved a consequential result. There are many myths regarding its creation and many exciting details about its journey across the globe. This article will walk you through the dramatic expansion of ice cream and reveal its many faces across the centuries.
Myths About the History of Ice Cream
The history of ice cream has a lot of myths surrounding it. The origins of this beautiful dessert have been attributed to many countries ranging from Nero’s Rome to 550 BC Persia. It’s said that Emperor Nero used to send people to the mountains to gather snow to make a dessert similar to ice cream. While there isn’t any evidence supporting this account of the history of ice cream, some argue that its origins cannot be in Rome since sorbets, which were used to bring flavor to snow, are believed to be an old Persian invention.
Other exciting stories regard ancient Egypt and Greece. In some hieroglyphs, researchers discovered images resembling snow and juice, which they interpreted as an early form of ice cream. Also, there were traces of ice cream in the works of Ancient Greek authors. Seneca mentioned iced desserts like ice cream and criticized that they were very wasteful. Despite all these disputing narratives, one thing about the history of ice cream remains unchanged; it was a luxury that was often only available to royalty.
Traceable Expansion of Ice Cream Across Continents
It is impressive that something considered a royal delicacy made its way across the entire world and transformed into a favorite among the general public, especially children. There are many theories about its expansion, and they usually differ based on the points they accept as the original location of ice cream.
Mongolia and China are the prominent locations that have a claim over the history of ice cream in Asia. Some believe that it was invented in Mongolia and made its way to China, Japan, and neighboring countries during the Mongolian invasions.
The expansion of ice cream is mainly attributed to Arab traders in the middle east. Those who accept Persia or Egypt as the origin point claim that the history of ice cream evolved thanks to the lively trade activity in the region.
On the other hand, Europe has a far more confusing account of how ice cream reached the continent. There are no valid factual accounts to support ice cream’s existence prior to the 16th/15th century, with the exception of Greece. Some people argue that it was the Arabs that brought ice cream to Europe. Still, Italians say that it was Marco Polo who expanded the history of ice cream to this continent, and they attribute its origin to China. While this version of the story has weak evidence, it furthers the theories that Italian duchesses spread across Europe through political marriages between countries.
While these theories are fun and dramatic, making ice cream an important transaction in the process of mysterious political marriages and a product of legendary travels around the globe, there aren’t any strong pieces of evidence to back these claims. Yet, no one can deny the beauty and joy of attributing such incredible power to your favorite dessert. So there is no harm in exaggerating the history of ice cream!
Eureka Moment; Cones vs. Spoons
Cones are how we usually consume ice cream. However, the history of ice cream has a long period where the only available method of eating was cups and spoons. The invention of cones dates back to the 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis. While most researchers point out that the use of cones was already mentioned in recipe books from the UK from 1888, 1904 is the accepted date for their actual utilization and popularization. The details aren’t clear about how one came up with the idea, but it’s not hard to imagine people struggling with having to carry both the cup and the spoon and eventually looking up a solution.
Popularization of Ice Cream
While its invention and expansion stages are suspicious and mysterious, the popularization chapter of ice cream is significantly more apparent. Since it is more recent history, there is more evidence to construct a clear picture. The history of ice cream concerns royalty and aristocracy for an extended period, but towards the 18th century, ice cream started to become available to ordinary people. In line with its long history in the region, it was first accessible to the public in the middle east and Mediterranean countries. The production and service of ice cream required ice houses to store the ice, making it a costly delicacy. However, ice cream started to turn into a public commodity with ice wells and alternative solutions.
In the 20th century, humanity was blessed with the invention of refrigerators and freezers. This led to a massive expansion in the ice cream sector and made it famous worldwide. This jump in the history of ice cream marked the significance of products used to store ice. It eliminated importing ice from colder countries and made it possible for each country to produce its own ice.
It is interesting to note that ice cream was associated with the US army in mid 20th century. During the second world war and several other deployments, it is said that ice cream was used to increase the soldiers’ morale. This function of the beloved dessert added a whole another layer to its personas and created new connotations.
What’s up with Sundaes?
The story of the invention of Sundaes is also a significant part of the history of ice cream. With the increased sales of ice cream worldwide, some laws were established to prevent its sale on Sundays for religious reasons. It’s rumored that producers came up with sundaes and continued to provide a variety of ice cream for their customers in an attempt to go around this rule. The name is said to be a play on the word Sunday as a nod to the story of its origin.
Ice Cream Machines
With the invention of freezers, ice was made available to everyone, but the real game-changer in the history of ice cream is the modern ice cream machines. In the beginning, there were only a handful of flavors. However, modern inventions and multi-functional ice cream makers provided us with countless flavors and different variations of ice cream. There are many special types of ice cream machines, such as soft serve machines and ice cream freezers. Furthermore, with this delicious dessert, you can create a lucrative ice cream business as well.
Ice cream is an essential aspect of our lives. It is a source of happiness, especially on hot days and specifically for children. It is interesting to examine the ice cream history and see its many different personas ranging from royal delicacy to children’s favorite dessert. Regardless of its origins and expansion theories, it’s safe to say that ice cream matters all around the world. At least it matters enough that almost every major country in the world has a claim on the history of ice cream, and the scoop on the history of ice cream surely will improve the taste of your scoop too.
But regardless of where it came from, how it was invented and who was behind it, it’s important to enjoy this favorite dessert.