21 – Crazy True Stories About Ice Cream | The Fantastic History of Food with Nick Charlie Key

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Key Takeaways

  • The first version of ice cream was made in China in 1600 BC.
    • It was initially made by freezing a mixture of rice milk and snow
    • Over time it started evolving as people added flavors to it
  • The Chinese ice cream was likely brought to Europe, in Italy by Marco Polo
  • There are several different stories about the invention of the ice cream cone
    • The most fascinating legend takes place at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis
    • A Syrian immigrant selling waffles partnered with an ice cream vendor running out of cups
  • Ice cream parlors started spreading as a response to the stigma against women dining alone
  • During WWII, the US, instead, increased its troops’ access to ice cream
    • At its peak, the US shipped more than 135 million pounds of dehydrated ice cream to its Military in a year
    • In 1945 the US Navy spent $1M to convert a barge into a floating ice cream factory

Intro

  • Host: Nick Charlie Key (@nickcharliekey)
  • In this episode, Nick takes us through the history of ice cream, from its accidental discovery in China to the fascinating stories about it during WW2

Origins in China

  • The first version of ice cream was made in China in 1600 BC.
    • It was initially made by freezing a mixture of rice milk and snow
    • Over time it started evolving as people added flavors to it
  • The Emperor had slaves go to the mountains to get fresh snow
    • A story tells of a slave coming across honey dripping onto the snow
    • As he brought it back, the Emperor was ecstatic
  • Throughout history, many civilizations experimented with chilled or frozen desserts
    • Egyptian hieroglyphs and Persian records suggest their use of ice to chill fruit drinks

Adoption in Europe

  • The Chinese ice cream was likely brought to Europe, in Italy, by Marco Polo
  • Then it became very popular in Italian culture
    • Particularly, the De Medici family helped to spread it
    • In the mid-1500s, Catherine De Medici introduced it to France when she married King Henry II
  • From there, ice cream quickly spread to England and the rest of Europe
    • King Charles I, wanted it to be exclusive to the royal family
    • He paid his chefs extra to keep the recipe secret

 The Invention of the Cone

  • There are several different stories about the invention of the ice cream cone
  • The most fascinating legend takes place at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis
    • It was a really hot summer day
    • A Syrian immigrant, E. Hamwi, had a stall selling crispy waffles right next to the ice cream stall
    • The ice-cream vendor was running out of cups
    • He partnered with the waffles’ vendor to sell the ice cream wrapped within the waffle-like dessert
    • People went crazy for it and Hamwi went on to commercialize the cone and founding the Western Cone Company

Ice Cream Parlors and Women Independence

  • In the early 1900s, there was a strong stigma against women dining alone
    • Sometimes they were even refused entry
  • As a response, a new style of restaurants started to emerge
    • Specifically intending to serve women dining alone or in the company of other women
    • These restaurants mostly served ice creams and were decored in a feminine style
      • They were named ice cream parlors

Ice Cream Stories in World War II

  • During the War, Britain banned ice cream
    • Sugar was scarce and was needed for more essential products
  • The US, instead, increased its troops’ access to ice cream
    • At its peak, the US shipped more than 135 million pounds of dehydrated ice cream to its Military in a single year
    • In 1945 the US Navy spent $1M to convert a barge into a floating ice cream factory
    • The army, then also  built miniature ice cream factories along the front lines
  • The USS Lexington, a US aircraft carrier, was hit by Japanese torpedoes and was about to sink
    • Instead of fleeing the sinking ship, some sailors attempted to grab as much ice cream as they could from the huge reserve of the ship
  • Airforce pilots found that they could easily make ice cream themselves
    • They mixed the ingredients before each mission
    • The cold temperature and vibrations up in the air allowed the ingredients to combine for the perfect ice cream
    • Once they landed, the dessert was ready to be enjoyed
  • Front line soldiers would fill their helmets with snow and pour melted chocolate on it
The Fantastic History of Food : , ,
Notes By Giorgio Parlato

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