Ice Cream 

A History Of Ice Cream


GiGi Birch,

May 2020


“I scream, You scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream”


The Invention Of Ice Cream 

Well who would have thought it – Ice cream was invented in China! Around 200 years BC a frozen milk and rice mixture was possibly the first version of today’s popular treat. It is reported that King Tang of Shang enjoyed the dish with the ingredients of buffalo milk, flour and camphor, whilst the Roman Emperor Nero in the 4th century BC had servants climb the mountains and bring back snow which was the flavoured with honey, nuts and fruit and Charles I, the King of England offered his chef £500 to keep his “ Cream Ice” recipe a secret so that only he and his chosen could enjoy it. 

Surprisingly, Marco Polo, the 13th century explorer experienced “ice cream” in China and then introduced it to Italy. It resembled sherbet, evolved into ice cream in the 16th century, and was made available to the public in 1660. A blended version was adopted by a Sicilian called Procopio Cutò who acquired a Royal License from King Louis XIV and these cool delights were sold from his kiosk at Foire Saint – Germain. This long and winding path led to the gelato with its numerous flavours available today.

In the USA 1774 a guest of the Maryland Governor William Bladen, writes back about “ice cream” with the first advertisement for this frozen delicacy appearing in the New York Gazette 12 May 1777. President George Washington spent $200 in 1790 on ice cream alone and President Thomas Jefferson is said to have created what we now know to be a Baked Alaska. 

Further progress took place when this semi frozen mixture proved to be the perfect topping for the cone which accidentally emerged when in in 1904 a Syrian namely Ernest E. Hamwi, rolled a waffle at the St Louis World’s Fair in the USA for his neighbouring ice cream seller who had run out of dishes and so the cone was born per chance and now 116 years on it is still in great demand. By the end of the 19th century Soda Fountain shops appeared, ice cream Sundaes were invented, and the military served it to its troops as morale boosters.

Wall’s merged with Mr whippy in 1964 but the more modern styled vans are still about today. Walls and now “boutique brands” of ice cream, independent gelato shops and ice cream parlours can be found globally and with the introduction of home freezing, supplies can be bought and stored and tucked into when the desire so takes, without waiting for the ice cream van piping out Greensleeves,  so that you knew it had arrived in the street. 

Popular flavours today are chocolate, salted caramel, vanilla, daring options include chilli, lemon poppyseed, pear and blue cheese. There are organic and vegan options, chai tea flavoured or rum and raisin, avocado or garlic; all in all, hundreds to choose from.

Mr Whippy

Mr Ice Cream Man 

1958 gave birth to the soft ice cream lovingly known as Mr Whippy which was piloted in Birmingham, England, with its initial 6 pink and cream ice cream vans that soon expanded to 150 and drove up and down residential streets selling beautiful white swirls to kids – old and young. Add a chocolate flake and it became a ’99 and with two flakes it is affectionately known as bunnies’ ears. The Americans called it Mr Softee having blue and white vans cruising the residential areas with similarly the same impact and raised voices of excitement.    


Ice Cream,



Orange Chocolate

Be it at the funfair, along the prom, relaxing in the garden, watching a movie or whenever the craving takes over; covered in chocolate sauce, thousand ones, nuts, fruit, out of a tub, an ice cream truck, or from an artisan, ices  evoke a feeling of happiness.  An accountant friend of mine once said to me “everyone loves an ice cream; it can’t help but bring a smile to your face” and Mike I believe you are right.

This year Americans celebrate National Ice Cream day 19 July. I think that we could all do with a little ice cream in our lives right now so let’s put in practice our own ice cream indulgent moments whenever and wherever we can.

As the song from 1927 by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert A. King

“I scream, You scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream”

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