The History of Ice Cream

The History of Ice Cream on

Because perhaps your favorite treat is a little cooler than you realized.

Believe it or not, the history of ice cream is a bit of a mystery. Although we’re lucky enough to enjoy everyone’s favorite confection today, there’s no absolute track record of where it really came from. While many claim to know when the treat was invented, no one really knows exactly when or where it came to be. But that doesn’t stop experts from making guesses about how ice cream came to be such a sweet treat.

In fact, the earliest records of anything similar to ice cream were in China around 200 BC, when they would freeze rice and milk together as a tasty treat. It was packed into the snow and would set into a solid piece.

Some also believe that Roman emperors sent slaves into the mountains to gather snow. Once retrieved, they would flavor it and serve it as a sweet, frozen treat somewhat similar to the ice cream we know and celebrate today.

During medieval times, those in the Middle East enjoyed sherbet (in Arabic, sharabt) flavored with pomegranate, cherry, and other fruits. These drinks eventually became popular with the European aristocracy which is believed to be the inspiration for today’s creamy, frozen treats.

Recipes for the beloved ice cream we know today probably made its way over the pond with European settlers in the 1700s.

How did we get our glorious sundaes?

Much farther down the road, ice cream sundaes came to be and contrary to what you might believe, they weren’t exactly a huge hit with everyone right off the bat. That’s because they were created in a moment of rebelliousness.

During the late 19th century, leaders in Evanston declared it illegal to sell ice cream sodas (or floats) on Sundays. That’s when vendors began replacing soda with a syrup. They declared this treat an “ice cream Sunday,” but decided to spell it “sundae” to prevent the religious leaders from getting too riled up over it (but we still think they were looking for a bit of trouble).

Where did cones come from?

Like many inventions, many believe that the ice cream cone was invented out of necessity in 1904. Two vendors are set up near one another at the St. Louis World Fair selling ice cream and waffles, respectively. And then it happens; the ice cream vendor’s product is so popular in the heat of the summer that he runs out of serving dishes. Thinking on his feet, Ernest Hamwi rolled one of his waffles into a cone, allowed it to cool off, and urged his neighbor vendor to scoop his popular frozen treat into it.

There are many people are credited with the invention of the ice cream cone and one man is credited with having a patent in the works by 1903, months before the often credited event described above.

Ice cream: a treat that we still wel-cone with open arms today!

So, while no one is completely sure of the exact origins of ice cream, we can still celebrate (with a nice, big sundae!). We’re just glad that it was created. It’s the perfect complement to a hot summer’s day and a wonderful pick-me-up in South Florida’s mild winter. Celebrate the history of ice cream by having your next party catered by Cold Stone. We’re ready to help bring your event to the next level.