According to the International Dairy Foods Association (www.idfa.org), the average American eats approximately 22 pounds of ice cream a year. The IDFA also reported that ice cream production in 2020 was up 6% from 2019. I think we all know why that happened. Ice cream is more than just a dessert, it’s a comfort food and we all needed extra comforting in 2020.
Ice cream is such an important part of American life, it has been honored with not just National Ice Cream Day (which is the third Sunday in July), but it also gets the whole month of July. To celebrate National Ice Cream Day and National Ice Cream Month, I would like to honor Nancy B. Johnson, the inventor of the hand-crank ice cream maker in 1846.
Before Nancy’s invention, ice cream was made with the “still pot” method, which has been generally credited to the French.
To make ice cream using the “still pot” method, the cream mixture was poured into a pewter pot that was sitting in a bucket of salted ice. After a few minutes, the cream touching the side of the pot would freeze. The servant (because it was usually a servant) would scrape the frozen bit off the sides and stir it into the liquid. Then it would freeze to the sides again. The servant would scrape and stir again. Freeze, scrape, stir, freeze, scrape, stir for HOURS until it was completely frozen and ready to eat. See why it was usually a servant?
With Nancy’s invention, the scraper was inside the pot and attached to a crank so the ice cream maker could stir the freezing mixture continuously. Instead of five or six hours to make ice cream, it could be done in less than an hour. Now anyone could make ice cream, not just rich people with servants. Unfortunately for Nancy, she was better at inventing than she was at business because she didn’t make much money from her ice cream maker even though she revolutionized the industry and made it easy for average Americans, like me, to eat 22 pounds of ice cream a year.
Hhm? Maybe I should use the “still pot” method and make my own ice cream? My scales are telling me that I could use a little less comforting and a little more calorie burning.