The origin of ice cream

There’s nothing quite like chilled ice cream on a warm summer’s day. This wonderful sweet confection has become a firm favourite for many, and with good reason. Whether you opt for the soft serve variety on a trip to the seaside, or a luxury branded version from the comfort of your own sofa, ice cream is a delightful treat for everyone to enjoy!

But how much do you know about this cold dessert?

Where did it come from?

Two ice creams in jars
There’s no definitive place of origin for this tasty treat.
Source: Unsplash.

There’s no clear origin for this favourite pudding. The ice cream as we know it is vastly different from the first ice cream-esque foods which appear throughout history. It is rumoured to have come from all manner of exotic places across the globe, but there is no definitive proof of this being one particular place.

There are numerous biblical references to King Soloman having a liking for iced drinks. Alexander the Great is rumoured to have loved snow flavoured with nectar and honey, and Nero Claudius Caesar was well known for sending servants into the mountains to retrieve snow which could then be flavoured with juices and fruits.

China developed one of the earliest incarnations. The recipe is alleged to have been brought to Italy by the traveller Marco Polo, however, there is no mention of it in his journals. Ice cream as we know and love it – a frozen custard which is mixed with egg yolks and cream – is most likely to have originated from 18th century France.

A royal delicacy

Ice creams on a blue background
Ice cream has been a real favourite throughout the centuries.
Source: Unsplash.

We have Charles II to thank for our love of ice cream. The king added it to the banquet menu in 1761 for his royal guests to enjoy: “one plate of white strawberries and one plate of iced cream”. A dish suitable for the elite, as only the wealthy had the means of which to freeze it.

The more affluent estates built ice houses so as to stockpile ice for various uses. These would be stocked in the winter when ice was abundant; the quality of the ice was poor, so it was never used in foods. Instead, it would be covered with bark and straw to help keep food cool in the summer months.

An American dream

Ice cream scooped into a bowl
Now we can enjoy ice cream from the comfort of our own home.
Source: Unsplash.

While we may enjoy the odd 99 flake on a warm summer’s day, it is nothing compared to the love that America gives this ice-cold dessert. Did you know that Americans consume the largest amount of ice cream worldwide? It was seen as a symbol of Americanism during the second world war, and was often served to the troops as a source of moral.

We have America to thank for those luxurious tubs in our freezer, too! Pennsylvanian milk dealer, Jacob Fussell, became frustrated that the demand for his products fluctuated. In 1851, he decided to build an ice cream factory so as to mass-produce it, which made this favoured sweet treat accessible for the lower classes. 

Ice cream was reimagined once again in 1874, when soda fountain shops became popular thanks to the ice cream soda – what we British would call an ice cream float. The favoured treat came under criticism from religious people, who claimed it was sinful to eat such a rich dessert on a Sunday. Ice cream sellers started to leave out the fizzy soda to combat this, and the infamous ice cream Sunday was born. Eventually this changed to ‘sundae’ to remove any religious connotations.

Why not make your own!

Cooks Professional ice cream maker
A Cooks Professional ice cream maker will help you create your own tasty treats!
Source: Cooks Professional.

Feeling inspired by our little history lesson? Why not make your own sweet treats! With your own Cooks Professional ice cream maker you can enjoy a sweet treat no matter the time of year. There’s no need to collect ice from the mountains for your ice cream, either – the ice cream maker does all the hard work for you, meaning that you can enjoy delicious desserts in the comfort of your own home. Why not take a look at some recipe ideas to get you started?

Have you got any interesting facts about ice cream? We’d love to hear all about it on our Facebook page!