…have heard that jingle before! Ice cream and all its frozen cousins are among the most popular desserts and summertime snacks in the world. Many of our readers would only have to go as far as their freezers for a scoop of something cold and sweet, but there were times – sad times – when this creamy dessert was reserved for the rich and elite and the rest of the population were merely onlookers longing for a lick.
Ice cream in its first appearance was a far cry from the tub of Ben & Jerry’s we know and love today. In the 1600s, fresh snow was mixed with honey and served to high society as a sophisticated albeit weather-dependent dessert. Then with the advent of icehouses some 100 years later – literally houses made to store massive blocks of ice hauled from frozen lakes – it was suddenly possible to keep your cool all year round. All you needed was an ice ‘brick’, a hand-cranked ice shaver and a fair amount of elbow-grease, and you could enjoy shaved ice drizzled with sweet syrup all year round. In fact, this dessert is very similar to Italian Ice or Water Ice that is enjoyed in many parts of America today.
How we got from some icy shavings to our current creamy confection is cloudy at best, but what we do know is that introducing dairy and salt into the recipe was a breakthrough that gave the dessert a longer and more stable shelf life. But it was still time consuming, costly and mostly consumed only by the upper classes.
So, we must raise a cone to Jacob Fussell, a milk dealer from Baltimore USA, who really brought ice cream to the masses for the first time. Investing in newly invented refrigeration equipment, Fussell turned his dairy supplies into the world’s first mass-produced ice cream and is credited with putting ice cream into the hands and hearts of every American.
Speaking of cones, legend has it that this ultimate accompaniment to ice cream was born of necessity by a quick-thinking stallholder at the St Louis World Fair. Upon using his last paper cone, this ice cream vendor allegedly bartered with the adjacent waffle stall and quickly fashioned the world’s first waffle cones. How much truth there is in the story is debatable, but we like the sound of it, and we all agree there’s nothing quite like a good waffle cone!
So, there you have it; that cold, creamy, delicious treat that we all know and love. All that remains to be seen is just how many bold and tempting new flavours we can concoct. Roasted turmeric with candied ginger is the latest scoop, along with avocado-lime, lavender honey, and pineapple cilantro, but the unchanged universal favourite is classic vanilla. No matter if your choice is semifreddo, frozen yoghurt, or a crowd-pleasing ice cream cake, dig in and happy scooping!