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Ice Cream


ICE CREAM. Ice cream, or iced cream as it was originally called, was once narrowly defined as a luxury dessert made of cream, sugar, and sometimes fruit congealed over ice. The techniques for making water ices and sorbets probably led to experimentation with cream and milk in Italy during the Renaissance although no recipes survive. On the other hand, there is clear literary evidence that this experimentation underwent considerable refinement in France during the seventeenth century, and that it was the French court of Louis XIV that first served ice creams at banquets. The use of snow and ice to cool wines was known to the Romans, and sorbets were well known to the Persians and Byzantine Greeks. It does not take a large leap in technology to go from sorbets to frozen creams, yet it was the use of sweet cream from cow's milk that originally made true ice cream possible. In fact, it is the rich milk from certain breeds of cattle that further defines the texture and flavor of this product.

Early Techniques

The original technique for making ice cream was relatively simple, although it was predicated on a good supply of ice or well-packed snow. A large pewter basin was filled with coarsely broken ice, over which the confectioner scattered salt. Salt lowers the melting temperature of the ice and thus induces evaporation. Another smaller pewter basin was set into the salted ice. This basin contained the cream, sugar (usually in the form of syrup), and flavoringlemon being by far the most popular ice cream flavor until the 1850s. The small basin was then turned by hand and the cream mixture stirred gently until it congealed due to the cooling action of evaporation. Otherwise, it was still-frozen, then beaten once firm. This method is found in numerous recipes surviving from the latter half of the sixteenth century, as well as in quite a few eighteenth-century printed cookbooks, including the Receipts of Mary Eales and Hannah Glasse's Compleat Confectioner.

The cookbook of Mary Eales, which appeared in 1718, is considered the first to feature an ice cream recipe printed in English, and it varies in technique from the basin method just described. Eales placed her cream in pails in an ice chest and still-froze them, a method developed by professional French confectioners and similar in shape to the crank-turned freezers of the nineteenth century. The appearance of ice cream in domestic cookbooks of the period may be taken as evidence that ice cream had moved from strictly palace fare of earlier times to the tables of the literate well-to-do. This is confirmed in America by a 1744 reference to ice cream on the dessert table of Governor Blandon of Marylanda thing to be marveled at and noted diligently in a dinner guest's diary. The governor's ice cream was served with fresh strawberries, a foreshadowing of the ubiquitous strawberry and ice cream festivals that today have become such an integral part of the American cultural scene. As for Governor Blandon, it goes without saying that many wealthy colonial Americans owned icehouses, which made such luxuries possible.

Implicit in the operation of making ice cream was the use of metal that transfers the cold temperature of the ice as quickly as possible to the cream. Pewter was the preferred metal of most ice cream makers down to the end of the nineteenth century, when it was replaced by other alloys. The reasons for replacing pewter were several: it pitted easily and it was soft. Complex molds made of pewter would eventually warp or bend, especially around the area of the hinges, which would lead to leaks and imperfectly shaped molded ices. Most important, pewter reacted chemically with acids in ice creams, thus forming toxic lead salts. This realization did not occur to confectioners until the chemistry of food became better understood; thus, it is highly probable that toxins in ice cream contributed to some of the maladies suffered by consumers in the past. This was certainly the case prior to pasteurization because freezing cream or milk does not kill microbes or prevent enzyme breakdown. However, none of these modern concerns affected the historical popularity of ice cream in Europe or America. It would probably be more accurate to say that ice cream became such a rage that its negative effects on the body were rarely mentioned even in medical literature. The loudest critics of ice cream bemoaned the costliness, for ice cream was indeed an expensive indulgence until the invention of the commercial ice cream maker in the late 1840s.

If French confectioners brought ice cream to the attention of the world by serving it at the French court, these same confectioners also codified the art of making ice cream so that, by the middle of the eighteenth century, numerous books could be consulted on ice cream making from A to Z. While the basin method was generally a technique employed in household confectionery, professionals made ice creams in ice chests and experimented with various substances to enhance freezing, including alum and saltpeter. The French also coined the term fromage glacé for true iced cream and introduced such unusual flavorings as cinnamon, chocolate, bergamot, and orange flower petals. The French in addition developed the concept of serving ice cream in tiny glasses, normally arranged on glass salvers. These standing displays, sometimes stacked very high, are depicted in quite a few confectionery books and necessitated the invention of tiny pointed spoons for eating the creams.

As ice creams became more fashionable, the formulas for making them also became more and more complex. This was especially true for ice creams that were molded because they required a firmer body than the old hand-whipped sorts. Cutting cream with milk and the addition of eggs, all of which was gently cooked until thick, became one of the signature methods used by French confectioners. Modern American ice cream producers generally call such cooked egg-thickened ice creams "French," as in French vanilla ice cream, although in the nineteenth century Sarah Rorer in Philadelphia and Agnes Marshall in London categorized them emphatically as Neapolitan. In fact, cooking the milk or cream was practiced by more than just French confectioners, and in America at least it was associated primarily with Italians. Neapolitan ice cream was also a specific flavor combination: three distinct layers, one green (pistachio), one white (vanilla), and one orange (orange flavor) in imitation when sliced of the Italian national flag.

The Popularity of Ice Cream

The French Revolution did much to spread the popularity of ice cream, especially in England and America, where refugee confectioners set up business. Some of the most active French confectioners settled in New York and Philadelphia, and their advertisements for ice creams are common in American newspapers from the 1790s into the 1820s. It was also during this period that ice cream gardens developed. They featured a confectionery shop where a variety of sweet foods were prepared, where wines and lemonades were served, and even elaborately planted flower gardens and, on occasion, musical entertainment. Since the best cream was seasonalMay and June being the optimal monthsthe ice cream gardens also offered cooked food to such an extent that many of them resembled outdoor restaurants. The cookery, however, was light, and for the most part appealed to women and children, since they could not enter oyster houses or taverns unless accompanied by a male. Ice cream gardens became safe havens where even teenage girls could socialize (or flirt) with budding admirers. Furthermore, ice cream gardens were off-limits to African Americans; thus in cities like Philadelphia, a number of black cooks established their own counterparts. Once commercial ice cream became less expensive, the ice cream garden was replicated by churches as a fundraising event under the name of an ice cream social.

The most famous ice cream in nineteenth-century America came from Philadelphia owing to the proximity of fine dairies, rich pasturage on which to feed the cows, and no small amount of local ingenuity. While several French confectioners established a penchant for rich ice creams during the 1790s, especially the demand for finely molded fromages glacés at supper parties and balls, it was the Parkinson family who put Philadelphia ice cream on the map.

George Parkinson and his wife Eleanor created a confectionery business that made Philadelphia vanilla ice cream a synonym for the city's haute cuisine. Their son James opened a restaurant in the early 1840s with an ice cream garden in the backsituated in the center of an elaborately pruned collection of roses. Parkinson's sales bills, advertisements, and surviving menus offer a rich selection of ice creams and ice cream sculptures. When Swedish singer Jenny Lind visited Philadelphia in 1850, Parkinson sent to her hotel room an ice cream harp complete with an ice cream nightingale perched on top (the singer was nicknamed the "Swedish Nightingale," hence the allusion). The ice cream was served on a huge silver platter together with a Bohemian glass ice cream service, molded jellies, and "iris-colored" cakes. Parkinson's showmanship did not go unrewarded. The story of the ice cream and Lind's response made national headlines. Parkinson's ice cream flamboyances and another important local development in the history of ice cream probably worked together to establish this food as a national dish. Ice cream is certainly viewed today as an American food, but its transformation would never have happened without Eber C. Seaman.

The Impact of the Crank-Turned Ice Cream Machine

Seaman was a New Jersey Quaker who invented a crank-turned ice cream machine, which he patented in 1848. His invention was first tested in the ice cream saloon of Mrs. E. A. Harbach, a Philadelphia confectioner also famous for her candies. Until the invention of Seaman's device, ice cream had to be made in small batches by hand. Seaman's crank-turned machine allowed one person to turn out many large batches of ice cream in a matter of hours. This brought down the unit cost of ice cream so that, within a short period of time, it became little more than a street commodity. Seaman's invention is what allowed the American love affair with ice cream to blossom. His large commercial machine was soon miniaturized so that anyone with a supply of ice could make their own ice cream by the quart or gallon. Thus, the hand-turned ice cream machine became a common household utensil by the 1880s, and numerous pamphlet-sized cookbooks were sold to go with them, all including detailed directions for ice cream recipes. One of the most popular brands of ice cream machine was the White Mountain, which gained many testimonials from leading cooks of the day.

Sarah Tyson Rorer of Philadelphia was a champion of such ice cream pamphleteering, primarily in her role of product endorsement. Rorer's New England counterpart was Mary J. Lincoln of the Boston Cooking School, whose magazines are today a gold mine of period ice cream recipes and illustrations, especially of the odd ways in which the creams were styled for presentation. One wonders whether her ice cream in the shape of a beef tongue realistically colored would have appealed to all sensibilities. On the other side of the Atlantic, Agnes B. Marshall of London not only offered her own patented ice cream freezer, a rich selection of elaborate ice cream molds, but also Marshall's patent ice cave for transporting ice creams to picnics, and two technical books on the subject: The Book of Ices (1894) and Fancy Ices (1922). Her domination of the late Victorian world of ice cream outshines the likes of either Rorer or Lincoln, and her cookery books are now considered classics of their genre. While Marshall is now part of history, her popularization of iced soufflés and especially of iced puddings has been long-lasting, especially in British cookery.

The future of ice cream, however, was not prophesized in the books of Marshall, but by Rorer. She broke down ice creams into these pragmatic categories: Philadelphia ice cream (using cream only), Neapolitan ice creams (frozen custards employing eggs), and ice creams from condensed milk or a product called evaporated cream. She also included in her 1913 cookbook a recipe for an "Alaska Bake" that was ice cream baked under a thick coating of meringue. In the last two examples, she was somewhat forward-looking in that baked Alaska became popular by the 1920s, and the shift away from natural ingredients to all sorts of artificial additives was already beginning to overtake commercial ice cream production in the early 1900s.

The first step in this evolution was the introduction of condensed milk by Gail Borden in 1856. Commercial thickeners appeared during the 1870s in the form of powders, such as powdered egg yolks, then various gelatin products, both animal-and plant-based. Finally, in 1899 the French introduced homogenizers that largely served as cream substitutes. This led to ice cream powders.

Espoused Health Benefits

Home ice cream making was always fraught with uncertainties, especially the achievement of good texture. Ice cream powder was introduced as a fail-safe remedy with health benefits thrown in for good measure. As one 1908 Jell-O cookbook claimed, "the healthfulness of good ice cream is beyond question. In many cases of illness the patients crave ice cream, and doctors and nurses tell us that it is usually good for them." This reasoning harks back to the Italian sorbets of the eighteenth century, which were often administered to patients suffering from high temperature. But those ices were primarily water and sweetened fruit juice, which the body metabolizes differently from dairy-based products.

The health slant was doubtless an attempt to adjust to the Pure Foods Act of 1906 because this same point is echoed across the board in most confectionery advertising of the period. After the United States acquired Cuba, the per capita consumption of sugar soared. Sugar began to permeate all aspects of the American diet, and this trend has not stopped. Yet, as an antidote to demon rum, the fountains of sugar at the ice cream parlor ("parlor" denotes respectability) or local drugstore became the morally correct culinary altar for Methodists, Baptists, and other dry denominations. It was in that blue law milieu that the ice cream sundae was born at Two Rivers, Michigan, in 1881. The sundae transformed plain ice cream into a rapture of chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, and candy tidbits known as nonpareils.

Ice Cream as a Part of Street Culture

Meanwhile, in cities where large communities of Italians settled, the hokey-pokey man became a fixture of popular street culture. He was an ice cream vendor and moving sandwich stand par excellence, with a small pushcart and a variety of Neapolitan flavorsNaples being the presumed origin of all the ice creamers in that line of work. The hokey-pokey man sold ice creams in paper cups and in paper cones so that customers could walk and eat at the same time. They also sold ice cream called penny licks. These were little glasses that contained a penny's worth of ice cream, a marketing gimmick aimed primarily at children. When the ice cream was eaten, the glass was given back to the vendor, who then washed it and refilled it for the next customer. The hokey-pokey man gave rise to a flavor of ice cream in cities like New York and London. In Philadelphia, his name attached itself to a hokey sandwich made with an antipasto salad of cold meats and lettuce now known as the hoagie.

The Ice-Cream Cone

The inventor of the ice-cream cone is not known, although claims abound. There is ample evidence that the concept existed in several forms long before the debut of the cone at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. The benefit of the cone was that the ice cream container could be eaten, yet if one is to accept the research of Brian Butko (2001), there was considerable resistance to the idea when it first attracted public attention. Hygiene was one reason, sticky fingers another. The public perception of ice cream was that it should be clean, like milk itself, a food that was both basic and culturally defining. The ice cream parlor and the drugstore soda fountain probably did more to help the ice cream cone gain acceptability in the long run, but it was the carefully wrapped ice cream snacks of the 1920s that eventually captured the market.

That ice cream should assume its hallowed place beside the drug counter during Prohibition may seem at first glance the most remarkable of fates, but it was the original idea that ice cream was both safe and healthy that allowed it to invade the domain of the local apothecary. Temperance instilled Americans with a love of drugs as a substitute for luxury: patent medicines were mostly alcohol, and the tempering qualities of ice cream were not known to cause a Fourth of July picnic to degenerate into debauchery. Perhaps this is one reason why American ice cream evolved into yet another branch of frozen snacks during the 1920s. Perhaps it was also due to a shift in lifestyles and altruistic spin-offs geared toward Hollywood and a need to provide movie theaters with frozen finger foods. Whatever the reason, one of the most important additions to the ice cream story arrived in the form of ice cream "novelties," to use a term then current.

Ice Cream Novelties

This included such portable snack foods as the ice-cream sandwich, the popsicle, and the Klondike, which is today the most popular of all ice cream products of this type. Most of these foods were born about the same time. Eskimo Pies were first marketed in 1921. Good Humor's ice cream "suckers" initially appeared in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1922. And in response to the success of Eskimo Pies, Isaly's of Pittsburgh created the Klondike, its polar bear logo curiously similar to the polar bear used by Marshall in her famous book of ices. Isaly's went on to become a household name in the Midwest, and their popular skyscraper cones left no doubt that even ice cream could assume phallic meanings.

Ice Cream in the Twenty-First Century

Ice cream has now come full circle. Most of it is extremely cheap and for this reason it has lost its sexiness. Low-fat dieticians have decried it as the frozen grease that clogs our veins. Ice cream has become for many the moral opposite of granola or a raw carrot. However, people gorge on ice cream that they feel is safer, which has not only lost its cream, but instead is made entirely of nondairy products, euphemisms for ingredients that never passed through a cow. It might be far more healthful to eat real ice cream in moderation and enjoy a long walk afterwards. This seems to be the rallying cry of the Slow Food Movement and other present-day culinary groups dedicated to revitalizing ice cream, and to restoring its flavor and cultural significance.

See also Additives; Dairy Products; Icon Foods; Sherbet and Sorbet; Slow Food; Snacks.


Butko, Brian. Klondikes, Chipped Ham, and Skyscraper Cones. Mechanicsburg, Penn.: Stackpole, 2001.

Ciocca, Giuseppe. Gelati. Dolci freddi, rinfreschi, bebite refriger-anti. Milan: 1926.

Cox, J. Stevens. Ice-Creams of Queen Victoria's Reign. St. Peter Port (Guernsey): Toucan Press, 1970.

Eales, Mary. Mrs. Eales' Receipts. London: Meere, 1718.

Emy. L'art de bien faire les glaces d'office. Paris: Le Clerc, 1768.

David, Elizabeth. "Hunt the Ice Cream." Petits propos culinaires 1 (1979): 813.

David, Elizabeth. "Fromages glacés and Iced Creams." Petits propos culinaires 2 (1979): 2335.

Harris, Henry G., and S. P. Borella. All about Ices, Jellies, Creams, and Conserves. London: Maclaren and Sons, 1926.

Hyde, K. A., and J. Rothwell. Ice Cream. Edinburgh, Scotland: Churchill Livingstone, 1973.

Marshall, Agnes B. The Book of Ices. London: Marshall's School of Cookery, 1894.

Marshall, Agnes B. Fancy Ices. London: Marshall's School of Cookery, 1922.

Nutt, Frederick. The Complete Confectioner. New York: Richard Scott, 1807.

Parkinson, Eleanor. The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-Cook, and Baker. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1844.

Rorer, Sarah Tyson. Mrs. Rorer's Ice Creams, Water Ices, Frozen Puddings. Philadelphia: Arnold and Company, 1913.

Senn, Charles Herman. Ices and How to Make Them. London: Universal Cookery and Food Association, 1900.

Stallings, W. S. Ice Creams and Water Ices in 17th and 18th Century England. London: Prospect Books, 1979. Issued as a supplement to Petits propos culinaires 3.

Williams, Mrs. H. Llewellyn. The Ice Book. Iced Beverages, Ice Creams, and Ices. New York: Wehman, 1891.

William Woys Weaver

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Ice Cream

Ice Cream


Our love affair with ice cream is centuries old. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Jews were known to chill wines and juices. This practice evolved into fruit ices and, eventually, frozen milk and cream mixtures. In the first century, Emperor Nero reportedly sent messengers to the mountains to collect snow so that his kitchen staff could make concoctions flavored with fruit and honey. Twelve centuries later, Marco Polo introduced Europe to a frozen milk dessert similar to the modern sherbet that he had enjoyed in the Far East. The Italians were especially fond of the frozen confection that by the sixteenth century was being called ice cream. In 1533, the young Italian princess Catherine de Medici went to France as the bride of the future King Henry II. Included in her trousseau were recipes for frozen desserts. The first public sale of ice cream occurred in Paris at the Café Procope in 1670.

Frozen desserts were also popular in England. Guests at the coronation banquet of Henry V of England in the fourteenth century enjoyed a dessert called cremefrez. By the seventeenth century, Charles I was served creme ice on a regular basis. Eighteen-century English cookbooks contained recipes for ice cream flavored with apricots, violets, rose petals, chocolate, and caramel. Other early flavorings included macaroon and rum. In early America, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were especially fond of ice cream. Dolley Madison was known to serve it at White House state dinners.

Because ice was expensive and refrigeration had not yet been invented, ice cream was still considered a treat for the wealthy or for those in colder climates. (In a note written in 1794, Beethoven described the Austrians' fear that an unseasonably warm winter would prevent them from enjoying ice cream.) Furthermore, the process of making ice cream was cumbersome and time-consuming. A mixture of dairy products, eggs, and flavorings was poured into a pot and beaten while, simultaneously, the pot was shaken up and down in a pan of salt and ice.

The development of ice harvesting and the invention of the insulated icehouse in the nineteenth century made ice more accessible to the general public. In 1846, Nancy Johnson designed a hand-cranked ice cream freezer that improved production slightly. The first documented full-time manufacturing of ice cream took place in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1851 when a milk dealer named Jacob Fussell found himself with a surplus of fresh cream. Workipg quickly before the cream soured, Fussell made an abundance of ice cream and sold it at a discount. The popular demand soon convinced him that selling ice cream was more profitable than selling milk.

However, production was still cumbersome, and the industry grew slowly until the industrialization movement of the early twentieth century brought electric power, steam power, and mechanical refrigeration. By the 1920s, agricultural schools were offering courses on ice cream production. Trade associations for members of the industry were created to promote the consumption of ice cream and to fight proposed federal regulations that would call for selling ice cream by weight rather than volume, and the disclosure of ingredients.

The Prohibition era proved to be very profitable for the ice cream industry. Denied alcoholic beverages, many people ate ice cream instead. Breweries were often converted to ice cream factories, although it is likely that some of the plants were merely fronts for illegal liquor sales. Although the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and the ensuing depression slowed ice cream sales, the industry continued to grow. The movie industry was especially instrumental in the promotion of ice cream and scenes depicting stars enjoying the frozen concoctions were plentiful. Ice cream parlors sprang up in every town and the parlor employee, the so-called soda jerk, developed into a cultural icon.

After World War II, with raw materials readily available again, the ice cream industry produced over 20 qt (19 1) of ice cream for each American per year. During the 1950s, competition sprang up between the ice cream parlor and the drug store that sold packaged ice cream. It was during this time that usage of lesser quality ingredients increased. Many producers were adding very low percentages of butterfat and pumping large quantities of air into the ice cream to fill out the carton.

The 1970s saw the development of gourmet ice cream manufacturers with an emphasis on natural ingredients. People also became interested in making ice cream at home. Upscale restaurants offer homemade ice cream on their dessert lists.

Raw Materials

Today, ice cream is made from a blend of dairy products (cream, condensed milk, butterfat), sugar, flavorings, and federally approved additives. Eggs are added for some flavorings, particularly French vanilla. The broad guidelines allow producers to use ingredients ranging from sweet cream to nonfat dry milk, cane sugar to corn-syrup solids, fresh eggs to powdered eggs. Federal regulations do stipulate that each package of ice cream must contain at least 10% butterfat.

The additives, which act as emulsifiers and stabilizers, are used to prevent heat shock and the formation of ice crystals during the production process. The most common additives are guar gum, extracted from the guar bush, and carrageenan, derived from sea kelp or Irish moss.

Ice cream flavors have come a long way from the standard vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. By the 1970s, the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers had recorded over 400 different flavors of ice cream. In an ever-expanding array of combinations, fruit purees and extracts, cocoa powder, nuts, cookie pieces, and cookie dough are blended into the ice cream mixture.

Air is added to ice cream to improve its ability to absorb flavorings and to facilitate serving. Without air, ice cream becomes heavy and soggy. On the other hand, too much air results in ice cream that is snowy and dry. The federal government allows ice cream to contain as much as 100% of its volume in air, known in the industry as overrun.

Makers of high-quality ice cream (sometimes known as gourmet ice cream) use fresh whole dairy products, a low percentage of air (approximately 20%), between 16-20% butterfat, and as few additives as possible.

The Manufacturing

Although ice cream is available in a variety of forms, including novelty items such as chocolate-dipped bars and sandwiches, the following description applies to ice cream that is packaged in pint and half-gallon containers.

Blending the mixture

  • 1 The milk arrives at the ice cream plant in refrigerated tanker trucks from local dairy farms. The milk is then pumped into 5,000 gal (18,925 1) storage silos that are kept at 36°F (2°C). Pipes bring the milk in pre-measured amounts to 1,000 gal (3,7851) stainless steel blenders. Premeasured amounts of eggs, sugar, and additives are blended with the milk for six to eight minutes.

Pasteurizing to kill bacteria

  • 2 The blended mixture is piped to the pasteurization machine, which is composed of a series of thin stainless steel plates. Hot water, approximately 182°F (83°C), flows on one side of the plates. The cold milk mixture is piped through on the other side. The water warms the mixture to a temperature of 180°F (82°C), effectively killing any existing bacteria.

Homogenizing to produce a uniform texture

  • 3 By the application of intensive air pressure, sometimes as much as 2,000 pounds per square inch (141 kg per sq cm), the hot mixture is forced through a small opening into the homogenizer. This breaks down the fat particles and prevents them from separating from the rest of the mixture. In the homogenizer, which is essentially a high-pressure piston pump, the mixture is further blended as it is drawn into the pump cylinder on the down stroke and then forced back out on the upstroke.

Cooling and resting to blend flavors

  • 4 The mixture is piped back to the pasteurizer where cold water, approximately 34°F (1°C), flows on one side of the plates as the mixture passes on the opposite side. In this manner, the mixture is cooled to 36°F (2° C). Then the mixture is pumped to 5,000 gal (18,925 1) tanks in a room set at 36°F (2°C), where it sits for four to eight hours to allow the ingredients to blend.

Flavoring the ice cream

  • 5 The ice cream is pumped to stainless steel vats, each holding up to 300 gal (1,136 1) of mixture. Flavorings are piped into the vats and blended thoroughly.

Freezing to soft-serve consistency

  • 6 Now the mixture must be frozen. It is pumped into continuous freezers that can freeze up to 700 gal (2,650 1) per hour. The temperature inside the freezers is kept at -40°F(-40°C), using liquid ammonia as a freezing agent. While the ice cream is in the freezer, air is injected into it. When the mixture leaves the freezer, it has the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Adding fruit and sweetened chunks

  • 7 If chunks of food such as strawberry or cookie pieces are to be added to the ice cream, the frozen mixture is pumped to a fruit feeder. The chunks are loaded into a hopper at the top of the feeder. Another, smaller hopper, fitted with a starwheel, is located on the front of the feeder. An auger on the bottom of the machine turns the hoppers so that the chunks drop onto the starwheel in pre-measured amounts. As the mixture passes through the feeder, the starwheel pushes the food chunks into the ice cream. The mixture then moves to a blender where the chunks are evenly distributed.

Packaging and bundling the finished product

  • 8 Automatic filling machines drop preprinted pint or half-gallon-sized cardboard cartons into holders. The cartons are then filled with premeasured amounts of ice cream at the rate of 70-90 cartons per hour. The machine then places a lid on each cartons and pushes it onto a conveyer belt. The cartons move along the conveyer belt where they pass under a ink jet that spray-paints an expiration date and production code onto each carton. After the imprinting, the cartons move through the bundler, a heat tunnel that covers each cup with plastic shrink wrapping.


  • 9 Before storage and shipping, the ice cream must be hardened to a temperature of -10°F (-23°C). The conveyer system moves the ice cream cartons to a tunnel set at -30°F (-34°C). Constantly turning ceiling fans create a wind chill of -60°F (-5 1°C). The cartons move slowly back and forth through the tunnel for two to three hours until the contents are rock solid. The cartons are then stored in refrigerated warehouses until they are shipped to retail outlets.

Quality Control

Every mixture is randomly tested during the production process. Butterfat and solid levels are tested. The bacteria levels are measured. Each mixture is also taste-tested.

Ice cream producers also carefully monitor the ingredients that they purchase from outside suppliers.

The Future

Ice cream manufacturers continue to develop new flavorings. Ironically, given the industry's experiences during Prohibition, one of the more recent innovations has been the introduction of liqueur-flavored ice creams.

Where to Learn More


Dickson, Paul. The Great American Ice Cream Book. Atheneum, 1972.

Lager, Fred. Ben and Jerry's: The Inside Scoop. Crown Publishers, 1994.


"Centrifugal pumps handle chocolate: overcoming the challenges of pumping heavy products." Dairy Foods, September 1994.

Gorski, Donna. "A cordial challenge." Dairy Foods, January 1995.

O'Donnell, Claudia D. "The story behind the story: two dairy processors tell a tale of fruits, flavors and nuts." Dairy Foods, May 1993.


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"Ice Cream." How Products Are Made. . 13 Dec. 2017 <>.

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ice cream

ice cream, sweet frozen dessert, made from milk fat and solids, sugar, flavoring, a stabilizer (usually gelatin), and sometimes eggs, fruits, or nuts. The mix is churned at freezing temperature to attain a light, smooth texture. Water ices existed in the Roman Empire, and Marco Polo brought back from East Asia reports of iced, flavored foods. From Italy the confection spread to France and England, reaching America early in the 18th cent. Ice cream sundaes had become popular by the 1890s, and the ice cream cone was introduced in 1904. The manufacture of ice cream in the United States on a commercial scale began in 1851 in Baltimore and has become an important industry. Commercial ice cream is pasteurized and homogenized. Federal, state, local, and industry regulations as to percentage of milk fats and solids, purity of ingredients, and cleanliness of preparation and dispensing are designed to maintain the dietary value of ice cream and to inhibit bacterial multiplication, for which ice cream is a favorable medium. Similar frozen confections include the fat-rich bisque (with added bakery products), parfait (containing eggs), and mousse; frozen custard, generally low in fat; frozen yogurt, also low in fat; and ices and plain or milk sherbets, based on fruit juices and sugar.

See V. Cobb, The Scoop on Ice Cream (1985); W. S. Arbuckle, Ice Cream (1986).

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"ice cream." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 13 Dec. 2017 <>.

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ice cream

ice cream A frozen confection made from fat, milk solids, and sugar. Some countries permit the use of non‐milk fat and term the product ice cream, while if milk fat is used, it is termed dairy ice cream.

According to UK regulations, contains not less than 5% fat and 7% other milk solids; according to US regulations, 10% milk fat and 20% other milk solids. Stabilizers such as carboxy methylcellulose, gums, and alginates are included, and emulsifiers such as polysorbate and monoglycerides. Mono‐ and diglycerides bind the looser globules of water and are added in ‘non‐drip’ ice cream.

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"ice cream." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . 13 Dec. 2017 <>.

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"ice cream." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from

ice cream

ice cream • n. a soft frozen food made with sweetened and flavored milk fat. ∎  a serving of this, typically in a bowl or a wafer cone or on a stick.

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"ice cream." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 13 Dec. 2017 <>.

"ice cream." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . (December 13, 2017).

"ice cream." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from