The history of ice cream begins in ancient times, when people used ice or snow to make cold desserts.

500 BC – During the Ahemenid Empire, a cold dessert was prepared in Persia, which was consumed on hot summer days. It consisted of concentrated syrup, poured over snow and mixed with saffron, grape or fruit juice and other flavors.

The acient Greeks used to consume snow mixed with honey and fruit in the markets of athena. Hippocrates encourages their patients to eat ice, ” as it invigorated vital functions and improved well-being”.

400 BC – An ice cream recupe, created especially for the royal families of the persian Empire, consisted of ice, rose water, soda(starch), saffron, fruit and other sweet spices. It has remained to this day a traditional Iranian dessert, called “fālūde”.

Yakhchal - construcție persană pentru păstrarea gheții.

to create or store ice even in the desert, Persian engineers build ice pits, called “yakhchāl”.

The structure consisted of an underground storage space, covered above the ground by a dome which facilitated cooling by evaporation. The heat-resistant building material contributed to the insulation of the storage space throughout the year.

Image: Yakhchal – Persian construction for ice preservation.

In ancient China a dessert of milk and rice was consumed, which was cooled to freezing. The dessert was placed in a container, then poured over the outside a mixture of snow and salpeter, until the content of the container reached cloze to freezing.

37-68 BC – Roman Empero Neron was stocking up on ice from the moutains so that he could consume cool delicacies made with fruit and honey.

800-900 – Arabs define the modern recipe of ice cream by introducing milk and sugar as the mains ingredients.

During the 10th century, ice cream made from milk, cream, rose water, dried fruit and nuts spread throughout the Arab territory, especially in Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo.

During Arab rule in Sicily, a drink made from fruit and brown sugar, kept in containers surrounded by snow or crushed ice, is prepared. Also prepare a dessert obtained from mixing snow with syrups and fruit juices. These desserts, which have become traditional, are those we call “granita” and “sorbetto”.

Neviera, peșteră artificială pentru păstrarea gheții în Sicila

So-called “nivaroli” (snowmen) collects snow from Etna and the Nebrodi and Peloritani Moutains, then stores it in “niviers”, natural or artificial caves that provide low temperatures for snow storage. Snow is then transported in summer to the sunny cities of the coast.

The fame of these Sicilian deserts soon reaches the royal courts, and especially florence.

Image: Neveriera, artificial ice cave in sicila

Ice cream became a popular dessert in Italy in the 16th century. Florence is believed to be the birthplace of the “modern” ice cream, which has a ingredients milk, cream and eggs.

1533 – When the Italian duchess Caterina de’ Medici marries Henry 2 of France, the Italian chefs who accompany her bring with them recipes of ice cream and sorbet. Thus these recipes spread to France and then to the rest of the world.

Caterina de' Medici
Caterina de’ Medici
Procopio de Coltelii, sicilianul care a îmbunătățit rețeta de inghețată
Procopio de Coltelli

The Sicilian Francesco Procopio de Coltelli improves the traditional recipe of sorbet with two innovations: It replaces honey with sugar and adds a little salt wich, mixed with ice in the appropriate proportion, greatly increases the time the produces remains cold.

Poză cu gelateria Le Precope din Paris

Procopio settles in Paris. Get a patent from King Louis XIV for the marketing of cold desserts and drinks, including ice cream.

In 1686, he opened the famous “Café Procope” In Paris, which still works today.

Image: Le Precope in Paris

1744 – Scottish settlers bring the ice cream recipe to North America.

1774 – Italian Filippo Lendi opens the first ice cream shop on American soil in New York.

Nancy Johnson from Philadelphia, Usa, patented a small, cranked ice cream machine in 1843. William Young has been producing these machines since 1848.

Agnes Marshall of the United Kingdom patented a similar machine in 1885, which can prepare a pint of ice cream in just five minutes.

With the helpof these machines, the domestic production of ice cream becomes much easier. But at the same time it also takes off commercial production.

Mașină de înghețată din SUA - prima mașină de mici dimensiuni pentru păstrarea înghețatei
USA ice cream machine
o altă mașină mică care faceo halbă de înghețată în doar 4 minute
Ice cream machine that can prepare a pint of ice cream in 5 minutes.

In 1851, Jacob Fussel of Baltimore opened the first commercial ice cream factory, which produces on a large scale.

Also in 1851, Swiss Carlo Gatti opened an ice cream stand near Charing Cross Station (London), where he sold a portion of ice cream for just a penny.

The industrial refrigeration, made by German engineer Carl von Line in the 1870s, eliminated the need to cut and store natural ice. Invented by Clarence Vogt in 1926, the continous-process freezer reduced labor and utility costs and increased the production volume of frozen desserts.

Thus, the automated commercial production of ice cream was created.

1934 – Eskimo pie is the first chocolate-covered ice cream. 

1939 – The mass production of American ice cream that was sent to boost the morale of allied troops in Europe was able to popularize this dish around the world. The majority though ice cream was an American invention.

The second part of the 20th century – Cheap refrigeration, the explosion of table products brands of ice cream and introduces “soft ice cream”, which has come to be one of the most popular desserts served in the summer.