©2010 Rapido Équipement Inc.

home contact français

The origin of ice cream

The great history of ice cream and frozen beverages is an incredible story that takes us back, way back to the fourth century before the Christian era. It takes us to the court of Alexander the Great, who was a fine gourmet. Always searching for new treats, he discovered one day a way to create a new dish. He was using the snow that his slaves were bringing down from the mountain to refresh fruit that he had previously baked in honey.

Several centuries later, the Emperor Neuron was serving his guests a beverage made of mashed fruit ,honey and snow. A Roman man, Maxims Gurgus, talked about this innovation with so much enthusiasm, he even tells the date, the year 62 A.C. the narrator added that they even use to send soldiers in the Apennine Mountains to go get enough snow; that shows that the army was always used for transport, even at the beginning of our era.

The word sorbet comes from the Arabian word sherbet which means syrup. The Sultans of Bagdad were offering those sherbets to their guests to their great delight. Ancient tales are talking about it but we don`t know how they got the snow to refresh the dishes.

All the good food lovers should think about Marco Polo and thank him. From his numerous trips around the world, he brought back pasta and ice cream. He thought cooks of his century, the thirteen century as a matter fact, an impressive amount of delicious recipes based on fruit and honey. He discovered that, instead of using snow, he could let water with saltpetre poor down on the surface of the containers holding the fruit. All Venice was rushing at the shop where those icy beverages were sold at very high prices.

The others Italian cities follow the example and a Roman man of the name of Bernardo Bontalent went bankrupt trying to produce it on a large scale.

The ice was imported in France by Catherine de Medicis after she wedded Henry the Second. Her son Henry the Third just loved those cold beverages and abused them sometimes. Under the reign of Louis Thirteen, the famous cook Vatel was offering to the guests of his majesty a delicious treat hard as marble and smooth to the mouth, which he called the icy surprises.

An other French cook, at the service of Charles the First,king of England, added to the Italian recipe some milk and cream. He was receiving 500 hundred pounds per year to keep his discovery secret.

The Procope café,established by the Italian Procopie Cutelli in Paris in front of the French comedy theatre, was the very first Salon of Ices.All people of Paris were savoring delicious ice cream and the visitors were going back home so excited that they encouraged the establishment of similar cafés in their own city.

Vienna was one of them. People would even eat ice cream in summer and winter. The testimony of even the famous musician Beethoven himself proves the extreme popularity of this treat. The extreme heat in the summer time is exhausting the stock of natural ice. The people from Vienna are all scared at the thought of running out of it and their ice cream.

The English Advised Homemaker, cooking book edited in London, was the first printed brochure giving out ice cream recipes. The date of origin of that book is 1750, witch shows that the homemakers already know at those early dates how to prepare this delicious dish.

A French cook published at the same dates an other cooking book, in which we found a large chapter dedicated to ice cream. Also at the beginning of the 18th century, the Tattler Magazine published a great article about that: cream bated like snow, iced and served a few instants after your lips have been burned by the salt and the pepper. That was the first gourmet article published in a newspaper in history.

An Italian man called Lensi turned on the American people to ice cream: he had to make his business place much bigger to be able to respond to the heavy demand. In 1777, he announced in the newspaper the Gazette the opening of a huge Salon selling ice cream all year around. Washington ordered a very large quantity and Lafayette, back from America talked about this extraordinary wave with enthusiasm.

An American Lady, Nancy Johnston, invented the sorbetiere, but did not register it for patent. A man name Young did it instead of her and became very wealthy.

A highly developed industry in Canada and the USA, ice cream is reaching hundred of millions of dollars in business yearly and the annual production reaches over 250 000 000 000 of pints.

We have gone a long way from the bucket Alexander the Great berried in the snow.

Charlotte Rix
La revue Populaire,Montréal,August 1957