Monday, July 7, 2014

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Summer makes you think of ice cream, but have you ever wondered where it came from?
It has a longer history than you might think. The Roman emperor Nero used ice brought down from the mountains to mix with fruit. In the seventh century A.D., the Chinese introduced milk and ice mixtures which were then brought to Europe. Sorbets and ices were popular at French and Italian courts. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Dolly Madison served “iced cream” at their tables. Home cooks and ice cream parlor confectioners would put a bowl of sweetened cream into a larger bowl of salt and ice and stir until it froze. The invention of the wooden bucket freezer and rotary paddles was a major breakthrough, and along with the first hand-cranked freezers patented in 1846 and 1848, ice cream making became easier.
An early advertisement for an ice cream freezer.
Ice cream was made from the very earliest days on the frontier. In 1865, the Montana Post advertised a Ladies' Ice Cream Saloon in Virginia City.

Advertisement from the Montana Post, August 5, 1865. Via Chronicling America.
In 1868, ice cream was a major part of the Fourth of July in Helena. On May 11, 1869, as the steamer Nile made its way to Fort Benton, the crew acquired a load of ice from Fort Peck. The steamboat stopped at the mouth of the Musselshell to buy cordwood from woodchoppers “Liver Eating” Johnson and X. Beidler. As was customary, the woodchoppers were invited aboard. It was Captain Grant Marsh’s birthday, and the cook made ice cream to celebrate. Neither Johnson nor Beidler had ever heard of it. They were suspicious of its coldness on a hot day, but they bravely ate their portions. And in 1872 at Urgam’s Occidental Restaurant in Deer Lodge, a plate of ice cream cost twenty-five cents. But it wasn’t until the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 that “walk away” ice cream was introduced. We have been enjoying ice cream cones ever since.

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