Ice Cream in the United States

By Hannah Anderson

The First Official Account of Ice Cream

The first recorded time that ice cream was in the United States or the "new world" was in a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland named Governor William Bladen.

The First Ice Cream Ad

The first recorded ice cream add was published on May 12, 1777 by the New York Gazette. The confectionest Philip Lenzi wrote that ice cream would be available "almost ever day".
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This is the original clipping of the ad published that day.

George Washington and Ice Cream

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Records kept by a Chatham Street, New York merchant shows that ice cream was one of President George Washington's favorite desserts.
These same records also showed that President Washington spend about $200 during the summer of 1790 on ice cream. Today that would be worth thousands of dollars.
An inventory recorded taken after George Washington's death shows that he owned "two pewter ice cream pots".

Other Presidents Love Ice Cream Too!

President Jefferson

President Thomas Jefferson was said to have a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy that resembled a modern day Baked-Alaska.
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This small piece of history, is a recipe card with Thomas Jefferson's own hand writing on how to make the perfect ice cream.

President Madison

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At President Madison's inaugural banquet at the White House, his wife, Dolley Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation.

Until the 1800s....

Ice cream remained a rare and exotic treat enjoyed mostly by the elite.
Finally in the 1800s, insulated ice houses were invented allowing more to enjoy this wonderful dessert.

Manufacturing Ice Cream

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In 1951, manufacturing ice cream became an industry in the United States. It was pioneered by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell.
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Like other American industries, ice cream production increased because of technological innovations, including steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, and new freezing processes and equipment. In addition, motorized delivery vehicles dramatically changed the industry.

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Ice Cream Soda Fountain Shops

Wide availability of ice cream in the late 19th century led to new creations. In 1874, the American soda fountain shop and the profession of the "soda jerk" emerged with the invention of the ice cream soda. In response to religious criticism for eating "sinfully" rich ice cream sodas on Sundays, ice cream merchants left out the carbonated water and invented the ice cream "Sunday" in the late 1890's. The name was eventually changed to "sundae" to remove any connection with the Sabbath.
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Ice Cream in World War II

Ice cream became an edible morale symbol during World War II.
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Each branch of the military tried to outdo the others in serving ice cream to its troops. In 1945, the first "floating ice cream parlor" was built for sailors in the western Pacific.
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When the war ended, and dairy product rationing was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. Americans consumed over 20 quarts of ice cream per person in 1946.
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Now and Today...

In the 1940s through the ‘70s, ice cream production was relatively constant in the United States. As more prepackaged ice cream was sold through supermarkets, traditional ice cream parlors and soda fountains started to disappear.
Now, specialty ice cream stores and unique restaurants that feature ice cream dishes have surged in popularity. These stores and restaurants are popular with those who remember the ice cream shops and soda fountains of days past, as well as with new generations of ice cream fans.
Due to ongoing technological advances, today's total frozen dairy annual production in the United States is more than 1.6 billion gallons.