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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Where did Ice Cream Come From?

Where did Ice Cream Come From?

It seems that the early history of ice cream is widely in doubt. There are many different stories and accounts. Although chilled or iced drinks were known in the biblical world, the Chinese most likely were the “inventors” of iced desserts.

Emperor Nero of Rome is recorded as being the first to serve a frozen dessert to his guests. As the story goes, teams of runners ran from the mountains carrying fresh snow, which was flavored with honey, juices and fruits.

After Marco Polo visited the Far East, he returned with a recipe for a flavored ice to which milk was added. The Italians adopted the dish and it spread throughout Europe. Later, cream was substituted for the milk. Charles I of England was very fond of this unique dish, and had a French chef who made it for him. His son, James II, paid one pound apiece for “A dozen dishes of ice cream” in 1686.

When the colonists came to America, they brought recipes for frozen desserts with them. The first known mention of ice cream in America was in a 1700 letter written by a guest of William Bladen, Governor of the Maryland Colony: “A Great Variety of Dishes, all serv’d up in the most elegant way, after which came a Dessert no less curious; among the Rareties of which it was composed was some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most Deliciously.” As time went on, and technology advanced, ice cream became more and more popular.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.