Tuesday, June 26, 2018

What's the Scoop?

QUESTION: I’ve loved ice cream ever since I was a kid. And today, I even make my own. I’ve been around for a while, so I’ve seen a variety of items related to ice cream changeover the years. I’d like to begin a collection of ice cream collectibles but have no idea what all there is out there besides ice cream makers and ice cream scoops. What sort of items related to ice cream would be good to collect?

ANSWER: Surprisingly, there are lots of items that would make a good ice cream memorabilia collection. But first, let’s take look at ice cream in the past.

Believe it or not, George Washington loved ice cream, too. He purchased a pewter “cream machine for ice in1784. Newspapers at the time occasionally advertised commercially made ice cream, but most people prepared it at home.

The first hand-cranked ice cream machine received a patent in May, 1848. Butby the end of the Civil War, ice cream makers could be found in most homes. These became popular with the extensive development and manufacture of ice boxes. This made it easier for Victorians to obtain and store ice to freeze the milk, eggs, fresh cream and eggs needed to make ice cream. Back then, it took lots of cranking, but the results were worth it.

By the 1880s and 1890s the ice cream freezer was a significant item in leading department stores and in catalogs. In 1884 one catalog featured selections from the American Machine Company which produced both single action and double action crank freezers, but also offered models which claimed to take less effort.

By the late 19th century, those making homemade ice cream also bought ice cream dipping spoons. They could purchase a variety of dipping spoons, including round ended spoons, pointed ended spoons, and square ended spoons—all 12 to 18 inches long.

Still another popular feature of the making delightful ice cream at home were the amazing array of molds. The ice cream could be pushed and shaped into all matter of images from cupid and Mother Goose to a rocking horse or George Washington himself. By the late 19th century even a battleship mold was available to for preparing ice cream in a big way, it held two quarts. Most of these molds were made of pewter.

Ice cream got a promotional boost at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904.

To help sell their products, commercial ice cream producers published and gave away booklets with ice cream recipes and instructions. The Snow Ice Cream Makers Guide in 1911 and the Ice Cream Maker's Formulary and Price List were just two of them. And commercial producers also sold their products at retail shops, serving it on store advertising trays.

The number of brands of commercially produced ice cream skyrocketed in the 1920s. While commercial producers like the Carnation Milk Company offered prepared ice cream, most of it came from local dairy farms. Most of the companies gave away premiums, such as calendars and buttons bearing the their names.

In 1927, the Sears Roebuck catalog began featuring not only ice cream makers, but scoops, and even pressed glass footed sherbet glasses for ice cream, sherbet, and sundaes.

Commercial manufacturers inaugurated National Ice Cream Week in the l930s. Hendler's Ice Cream handed out brass rests for ice cream scoops, Puritan Dairy Ice cream issued toy whistles. As the 1930s drew to close the Howard Johnson's restaurant began offering what would ultimately become 28 different flavors of ice cream Back then, Americans consumed nearly three gallons of ice cream per person per year.

In 1949, hoping to encourage in commercial ice cream, Sealtest published and distributed a vivid booklet of recipes entitled, New Ways With Ice Cream.

To promote their products even further, many commercial producers took out colorful advertisements in magazines.

Related to ice cream distribution was the ice cream parlor, with its myriad of equipment. One such device was the ceramic dispensers for Coca Cola, Hires Root Beer, and Dr. Pepper. These were usually large one or two-piece china urns. There were also straw holders. milk shakers, and assorted glassware. And don’t forget all the signs and advertising.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about the Victorians in the Winter 2018 Edition, "All Things Victorian," online now.  

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