Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making

Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making

Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making

Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making


Was ice cream invented in Philadelphia? How about by the Emperor Nero, when he poured honey over snow? Did Marco Polo first taste it in China and bring recipes back? In this first book to tell ice cream's full story, Jeri Quinzio traces the beloved confection from its earliest appearances in sixteenth-century Europe to the small towns of America and debunks some colorful myths along the way. She explains how ice cream is made, describes its social role, and connects historical events to its business and consumption. A diverting yet serious work of history, Of Sugar and Snow provides a fascinating array of recipes, from a seventeenth-century Italian lemon sorbet to a twentieth-century American strawberry mallobet, and traces how this once elite status symbol became today's universally available and wildly popular treat.


During the past few years, whenever I told people I was working on a book about ice cream, they invariably smiled. Then they told me their ice cream stories. Some described how they struggled to turn the crank of an oldfashioned ice cream maker on a summer afternoon, just so they could lick the dasher when the ice cream was ready. Peach ice cream was a particular favorite. Some reminisced about waiting for the familiar jingle of the ice cream truck’s bells when they were kids, and then having trouble deciding between a Popsicle and a Fudgsicle. The tales were predictably happy, except for the ones about a scoop of ice cream falling out of a cone onto the street.

People also told me stories they’d heard about the history of ice cream and its creation. One woman, a Philadelphia native, said that as a schoolgirl she was taught that ice cream was invented in her hometown. When I told her it wasn’t, she said, “I didn’t quite believe it even then.” People spin all sorts of tales about ice cream’s origins, and most of them are wrong. That’s too bad, because its history is remarkable. It doesn’t need embellishment.

I’d like to set the record straight.

One popular myth has it that Nero invented ice cream since he liked eating snow with honey poured over it. He may have enjoyed that particular treat; however, pouring honey over snow is not making ice cream.

Marco Polo may have tasted ices in China in the thirteenth century, as many believe, but he did not bring recipes or information about freezing techniques back to Italy. If he had, there would be references to them in . . .

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