Although the exact origins of popular ice cream have been sadly lost in history, there are several fascinating legends & myths which surround it. Legend & facts meet and often inaccurately become part of the history. Ice houses, ice wells, & ices (drinks made up of ice and snow) also seem to get confused.
Greek & Latin literature write about the storage of ice & its ancient usage for the cooling of wine & water. The history of ice cream actually begins with snow. Historians know it was gathered from mountains in 4th century Japan and also it was stored regularly in snow houses of Europe by the 15th century.
The earliest frozen desserts or sweets were snow with flavored sugar liquid syrups poured over top. These sweet desserts have been found in China, & notable in Persian culture, often known as sherbet or sherbert, flavored with fresh lemons, citrons, violets, or ambergris (which is an aromatic whale secretion).
In the Europe region, fruit flavors were famous as well as nuts, like hazelnut & pistachio. In the early 16th century, scientists discovered that by adding salt or saltpeter (which is potassium nitrate) with snow, you could actually lower the freezing temperature of water to about zero degrees.
Before this innovation, ice or snow could only be used to cool liquids; but this procedure allowed cooks to be able to freeze any type of liquids. Some of the earliest things to be frozen were the “sarbates,” creating the very first sorbets.
Sorbets, or sorbetti, was adapted as the earliest word for any kind of frozen dessert. Many of these sweet desserts were made in Italy, especially around Naples. Ice cream dessert was first sold in grocery stores in the late 1930s.
World War 2 further popularized the tasty dessert as the treat was excellent for troop morale & became somewhat of a symbol of the US at the time (so much so that Italy’s Mussolini at that time banned ice cream to avoid the association).
This war time delicious ice cream resulted in one of the biggest producers of ice cream in America in the year 1943 being the United States Armed Forces.
5 Interesting Ice Cream Facts:
1. Café Procope, which served the first public flavored ice cream in Europe, is still in operation today & is the oldest continuously run restaurant and hotel in Paris.
2. The most famous flavors of ice cream are chocolate & vanilla. However, in Merida, Venezuela there’s an ice cream parlor that serves around 860 different types of flavours, including the mushrooms in wine, macaroni & cheese, & cream of crab.
3. Soft-serve flavored ice cream has been around since the early 1930s, & is made by including air to the ice cream composition during the freezing procedure. The result is a softer ice cream dessert that lowered the price of ice cream even more due to the fact that it required less in the way of food ingredients.
4. The famous Dippin’ Dots ice cream is actually made by freezing cream with liquid nitrogen. This sort of practice has been in place for several years but it has only recently been commercialized.
5. Today, it is estimated that about 1.6 billion gallons of dessert ice cream & related frozen dairy products are made annually in the United States of America alone. In addition, American citizens eat a whopping four gallons of fresh ice cream per person each year on average.