TUESDAY TRIVIA: Where Did Ice Cream Come From?

Ice cream is increasingly popular during the summer. Its history shows a variety of iterations from China through Europe to what we know the treat as today in America.

Where did ice cream come from?

The emperors of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) are believed to have been the first to eat a frozen milk-like confection, according to PBS. This version was made with cow, goat or buffalo milk that was heated with flour. Camphor, an aromatic substance harvested from evergreen trees, was added to enhance the texture and flavor. The mixture was then placed into metal tubes and lowered into an ice pool until frozen.

In medieval times, Arabs drank an icy refreshment called sherbet, or sharabt in Arabic. Over time, these drinks became popular with the European aristocracy. PBS adds that Italians are said to have mastered this drink-making technique, with the French following suit shortly after.

The 17th century saw ice drinks being made into frozen desserts. With the addition of sugar, sorbetto—or, as we more commonly know it, sorbet—was created. Antonio Latini (1642 -1692), a man working for a Spanish Viceroy in Naples, is credited with being the first person to write down a recipe for sorbetto. He is also responsible for creating a milk-based sorbet, which most culinary historians consider the first official ice cream.

In 1686, a Sicilian named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened Paris’ first café, and he introduced gelato, the Italian version of sorbet, to the French public. Around the same time, the French began experimenting with a frozen dessert called fromage. French confectioner Nicolas Audiger, in his book “La maison reglée,” described several fromage recipes made from ices flavored with fruit. One early recipe includes cream, sugar and orange flower water. Audiger also suggested stirring ices during the freezing process to introduce air and create a fluffier texture.

According to PBS, European settlers likely introduced ice cream to America in the early 1700s. By this time, several books on confectionery had been produced and included recipes for ices and ice cream. In 1790, the first ice cream parlor opened in New York.