Sugar was rationed in the U.S. during World War I, but the ice cream industry convinced the government that ice cream was an "essential food." Ice cream factories were allotted sugar rations and production continued.
Ice cream increased in popularity until the Depression years caused a drop in sales for virtually all non-essential goods.
Regardless of who first created it, the ice cream cone made its mark at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri (often referred to as the 1904 St. Louis Fair). There are conflicting legends about various waffle makers who started selling waffles folded into cones to ice cream vendors who ran out of plates. By all accounts, waffle makers and ice cream vendors were both plentiful at the fair, and the idea of eating ice cream from an edible cone really caught on there.
For flavoring ice cream, city dwellers had the option of buying expensive spices or flavorings, but many housewives chose to make their own extracts or essences. Early cookbooks contained a variety of ice cream recipes using fresh fruit, which the cook had to pare and crush — adding to the preparation time.
Of course, not all ice cream was homemade in colonial America. In the larger cities, consumers had the option of buying it from a confectioner or caterer.
Molds had been a popular way of serving ice cream as early as George Washington's time, but they became even more fashionable during the second half of the 19th century. Cookbooks often included instructions to help housewives use molds purchased from the local general store or a mail order catalog. Confectioners, caterers, and chefs vied with one another to create the most elaborate, decorative forms in ice cream.
Cooks had been making creams and custards, both simple and sophisticated, since the Middle Ages. In medieval England, "cream of almonde" was a popular dessert. Spanish cooks made a crema Catalana, which was golden with saffron. The Italian crema della mia nonna (my grandmother's cream) was sweetened with honey and flavored with citron. The english made a sage cream with red sage and rose water.
Eventually, scientists and then cooks learned that common salt would work as well as saltpeter. For centuries, the combination of ice and salt was used for freezing. Even today, some home cooks use the method when they're making ice cream. Mixing salt with ice lowers the ice's freezing point, causing it to melt. As it does, heat is transferred away from the ice cream mixture and it freezes.
Ice cream as a dairy delight was probably “discovered” in the 1600’s. The concept of flavored ices evolved, but no one is sure how. We do know that Charles I of England, or rather, his chef (either French or Italian), made ice cream a staple of the royal table. Depending on which version you read, either the chef had a secret recipe for ice cream and the king paid him a handsome reward to keep it a secret, or the chef was threatened with death if he divulged the recipe. Either way, once Chuck-One was beheaded in 1649, the chef blabbed. Soon nobility in Europe knew of, and enjoyed, “crème ice.”
The hand crank might have been fine for backyard picnics, but no one considered ice cream making as an industry – until Jacob Fussell in 1851. The milk dealer was looking for a way to keep a steady demand for his cream. He discovered that he could do so by turning it into ice cream – and he could get twice the price! His Baltimore factory utilized icehouses and a larger version of Johnson’s machine, and by the start of the Civil War he had additional ice cream plants in New York, Washington, and Boston.
The first official account of ice cream in the New World comes from a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland Governor William Bladen. The first advertisement for ice cream in this country appeared in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, when confectioner Philip Lenzi announced that ice cream was available "almost every day." Records kept by a Chatham Street, New York, merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. Inventory records of Mount Vernon taken after Washington's death revealed "two pewter ice cream pots."
The emperors of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) are believed to have been the first to eat “a frozen milk-like confection.” 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. This process is similar to the way Indians made kulfi prior to refrigeration.
We know that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Biblical references also show that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during harvesting. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar (A.D. 54-86) frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.