The Story of the Invention of the Ice-Cream Makers

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There are many contenders of the ice-cream makers from ancient times to the early 20th century, informs Prof. Ashoka, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

There are several contenders for the invention of the early ice-cream maker, from the famous Roman emperor Nero to the Chinese who claim that Marco Polo borrowed their recipe and introduced it to the Europeans. There are also numerous accounts of desserts made from fruits mixed with snow in both Latin and ancient Greek Literature.

Many different people have been credited with the invention of the first modern ice-cream maker. Many historians agree that in 1843, American Nancy M. Johnson came up with a design for a hand-cranked ice-cream maker. Her idea was based on practical knowledge. It involved using two cans, one smaller than the other so that the first one could be placed inside the second can. The larger can was filled with salt and ice. The smaller can was filled with a mixture of milk, flavour, and sugar. A crank with a mixing paddle was placed inside the mixture of milk and flavouring to help churn the ingredients. The salt helped to stabilise the ice as the mixture was constantly churned, turning it into a smooth creamy consistency. This process helped to cut down on ice-cream production time, but Johnson did not hold on to her patent. She got $200 for her invention from William Young, who named it the Johnson Patent Ice-cream Freezer.

Some also claim that Augustus Jackson, a chef at the White House in Washington D.C., invented the first ice-cream maker in 1832. It is believed that Jackson served exotic ice-cream flavours as desserts at White House state dinners for First Lady Dolley Madison’s guests. He experimented with the ice-cream making process, trying to make it less laborious, and came up with a temperature controlled, paddle-based system that used ice and salt. This helped to revolutionise the way ice-cream was made at the White House, but he had no time to patent his idea.

Many people have contributed to the evolution of the ice-cream makers since then. Some noteworthy contributions include a freezer, only for freezing ice, developed by Agness B. Marshall of London. It could freeze a pint of ice in under five minutes. African-American inventor Alfred L. Cralle is credited with inventing the ice-cream mould and disher, in 1897. His invention helped to keep ice-cream off the walls of the container and was easy to operate.

American Jacob Fussell improvised upon Johnson’s Ice-cream Freezer and built the first commercially successful ice-cream plant in 1909 that produced 30 million gallons of ice-cream each year.

Serialised from the book, Popular Triumphs of Human Innovation in Everyday Life by Prof. Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad

©Prof. Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad

Photos from the Internet

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Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad is a physician /psychiatrist holding doctorates in pharmacology, history and philosophy plus a higher doctorate. He is also a qualified barrister and geneticist. He is a regular columnist in several newspapers, has published over 100 books and has been described by the Cambridge News as the ‘most educationally qualified in the world’.