Monday, August 12, 2013

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

by Erin Doane, Curator

Ice cream is one of the best things about summer.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks forward to the day my favorite ice cream stand opens for the season each year.  More than 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream are produced in the U.S. each year but sundaes and half-gallons were not always so widely available.
Red Cross serving ice cream to soldiers, c. 1919
Various forms of the frozen treat have been made for thousands of years.  The founding fathers enjoyed ice cream in the early days of the Colonial America.  The first advertisement for ice cream in the U.S. appeared in the May 12, 1777 issue of the New York Gazette.  The exotic dessert was available in the private homes of the elite and from confectioners in New York, Philadelphia and other cities but it was a rare treat, not available to most people until the middle of the 19th century. 
White Mountain Freezer ice cream maker, 1923
As insulated ice houses became more common through the early 1800s, people started to have access to ice year round.  The first small-scale hand-cranked ice cream makers were patented in the 1840s.  These ice cream makers were wooden barrels with metal churns inside.  Cream, sugar and other flavorings were put into the churn and then ice was packed around it within the barrel to chill the mixture as someone cranked the churn.  With these machines people could make ice cream at home for special occasions.
L.A. Corning Ice Cream Company, 1916
Large-scale manufacturing of ice cream was started in 1851 by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell.  By the late 19th century ice cream was more widely available in the U.S. thanks to advances in manufacturing technology, mechanical refrigeration, and transportation.  The L.A. Corning Ice Cream Company manufactured ice cream in Elmira as did the Hygeia Ice Cream Company, an offshoot of the Hygeia Refrigerating Company.  There were also many shops in the area serving up the sweet frozen treat including Creighton's Creamery, Schmeck's White House Ice Cream Store, Allendale Ice Cream Bar and Dolly Madison Ice Cream.

The Aster Candy Store, 1943

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