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Scooping History: The Origins of Ice Cream

Many people enjoy this frozen treat, but don’t know its origin.

By Tyler Davis

Photo by Pinterest

Do you have a pint of ice cream sitting in your freezer? Have you ever stopped to think about where ice cream came from, who invented it, and how it’s made?

When people think of ice cream, they first think of a delicious frozen dessert with three main ingredients: cream, milk, and sugar. However, when ice cream was first created, it only had one ingredient: frozen milk. According to PBS, it was the emperors of the Tang Dynasty (618 AC) that were first seen eating what is now known as ice cream. However, it is made differently today. The base of the ice cream was often made of either cow, goat, or buffalo’s milk, and mixed with flour and camphor.

Not only were the ingredients to create ice cream slightly different than they are currently, but the process to make it was too. According to the Ice Cream Association, the method to make ice cream used to involve freezing it with ice and salt, due to the lack of technological advancements.

The commercialization and industrialization of ice cream has allowed different versions of ice cream, such as gelato, sorbet, sherbet, dairy free options, among others, to reach an endless amount of consumers. New techniques and industrialization have allowed ice cream to expand its potential; it’s made with more ingredients/flavors and new machine technology making it easier and quicker to make.

With the emergence of new technology for ice cream, there has also been the development of dairy-free flavors. Dairy-free ice cream allows an even larger reach of consumers: it makes it possible for those with any allergies or dietary restrictions to still enjoy this frozen treat. As someone with a lactose sensitivity, I can tell you while dairy-free alternatives may not taste the same as the regular ice cream, it’s just as delicious. According to a Snow Monkey article, plant-based ice cream can even serve as a healthier alternative to regular ice cream, since some brands contain less sugar and fat. With the rise in diet culture, it has allowed for the ice cream industry to expand what they offer. There are more brands out there, such as Halo Top, that replace things like sugar and cream with sucralose (a low calorie sweetener) and low-fat milk.

With ice cream first emerging in the ancient world from the Chinese, today it has evolved into a more modernized version that many of us have come to adore world-wide. There have been developments that aid the ice cream industry: new flavors and new ways of making it so everyone can enjoy. It’s safe to say that ice cream has changed for the better and tastier.

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