Who Invented Ice Cream

who invented ice cream
who invented ice cream

Ice cream, the beloved chilled dairy treat, has a fascinating history that spans across centuries and continents. The origins of ice cream can be traced back to ancient times, but its exact invention remains a topic of debate. While popular legends attribute the invention of ice cream to figures like Marco Polo, Catherine de Medici, and Thomas Jefferson, the truth behind its creation is more elusive.

Ancient Beginnings

The concept of iced drinks and desserts dates back thousands of years. As early as 4000 B.C., nobles along the Euphrates River built icehouses to combat the scorching Mesopotamian summers. In ancient Athens, snow was sold in the streets to cool wine during the fifth century B.C. Even Roman emperor Nero indulged in iced refreshments flavored with honey. The Tang dynasty in China even had descriptions of a sweet drink made from iced water buffalo milk.

Turkish Sherbert and Indian Kulfi

Chilled delights were also popular in the Islamic world. Turkish sherbet, a sweetened drink often cooled with snow, played a prominent role. Persian faloodeh, which featured vermicelli noodles in chilled syrup, has been enjoyed for centuries. Indian Mughal emperors delighted in kulfi, a quasi-ice cream made from condensed milk frozen in molds. The knowledge that ice mixed with salt created a heat-sucking slurry with a lower freezing point than water enabled the creation of these frozen treats.

The Italian Connection

The first European ice creams and water ices (sherberts) likely emerged in Italy during the early 1600s. Water ice desserts were described as early as the 1620s and became a staple in banquets across European cities like Paris, Florence, Naples, and Spain. In 1672, an Englishman named Elias Ashmole recorded that King Charles II had been served “one plate of ice cream” at a banquet the previous year. Italian steward Antonio Latini published a recipe for a milk sorbet laced with candied pumpkin in 1694.

Ice Cream in America

Ice cream made its way across the Atlantic with European settlers. As early as 1744, the first lady of colonial Maryland served ice cream. In 1784, George Washington purchased a mechanical ice cream maker for his estate at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson, while serving as a diplomat in Paris, likely developed a taste for French ice cream during the same year. Jefferson even served ice cream in the executive mansion during his presidency, including his own recipe for French-style vanilla ice cream.

Evolution and Innovation

By the late 19th century, America became a hub for ice cream innovation. A Philadelphia pharmacist mixed the first ice cream soda in 1874, and the ice cream sundae emerged in 1881. Edible ice cream cups were patented in the 1880s, coinciding with the rise in popularity of milkshakes. The waffle cone gained fame when it was introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, while the Popsicle was patented in 1923. Dairy Queen and the Carvel company claimed to have developed soft-serve ice cream in the mid-1930s, and frozen yogurt made its appearance in the 1970s.

Today, ice cream and its icy relatives are beloved worldwide. These frozen delights continue to evolve, with new flavors, variations, and innovations constantly being introduced. From Frosty Boy soft-serve machines in Antarctica to local ice cream parlors serving artisanal creations, the joy of ice cream transcends borders, cultures, and generations.


What is the origin of gelato?

Gelato, a traditional Italian frozen dessert, has its roots in ancient Rome and Renaissance Italy. It evolved from early sorbet-like creations to the smooth and creamy treat loved today. Unlike ice cream, gelato has a lower fat content, is churned at a slower speed, and is served at a slightly warmer temperature, giving it a unique texture and flavor.

How can I make homemade ice cream?

Making homemade ice cream is a delightful culinary adventure. Start by combining cream, milk, sugar, and any desired flavorings. Then, chill the mixture thoroughly and churn it in an ice cream maker. Finally, transfer the churned mixture to a container and freeze it until it reaches the desired consistency. Get creative with flavors and mix-ins to personalize your homemade ice cream.


The invention of ice cream is a rich tapestry woven through the annals of history. While its exact origins may be difficult to pin down, the joy and delight that ice cream brings to people around the world are undeniable. From ancient Mesopotamia to modern-day innovations, ice cream continues to captivate our taste buds and inspire culinary exploration. Indulge in the pleasures of this frozen treat, and don’t forget to celebrate the joy of food and culinary creativity with Takeout Food.

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