Photograph, Chandler’s Ice Cream, 86 Andover Street, circa 1954
Advertisement, Lynnfield News, September 7, 1978

The recent heatwave has inspired this week’s post. Let’s grab a spoon and dig into some fun facts about the history of ice cream. Americans did not invent frozen desserts, but have certainly made this sweet treat their own.

  • 1744 – First recorded frozen dessert in America was served by Colonial Governor Thomas Bladen of Maryland. It was iced cream and strawberries.
  • 1789 – George Washington was introduced to ice cream and loved it so much that he bought a “cream machine for ice” for his home at Mount Vernon.
  • 1832 – Augustus Jackson, a former White House Chef, invented a new way to process ice cream. He added salt to the ice to keep the temperature more stable.
  • 1844 – Nancy Johnson, likely of Philadelphia, invented and patented the first hand cranked ice cream maker and freezer.
  • 1851 – Jacob Fussell, of Baltimore, had the first business to mass produce ice cream. His ice cream was shipped to New York City and Boston. By 1909, the Fussell factory was producing 30,000 million gallons of ice cream a year.
  • 1918 – During World War I, a German officer was quoted about America’s involvement in the war, said that “We do not fear that nation of ice cream eaters.” As a result, it became a source of national pride to eat ice cream, and ice cream was deemed an essential food during the war, exempt from sugar rationing.
  • In 1925, in Quincy, Massachusetts, Howard Johnson opened his first ice cream parlor with 28 flavors, made with buttercream, for a more decadent taste.
  • 1938 – Soft-serve ice cream is invented in Illinois by J. F. McCullough and his son, Alex. The McCullough family would later start Dairy Queen.
  • 1945 – The US Navy commissioned the world’s first “floating ice cream parlour” for service in the Western Pacific. The concrete barge was stationary and needed to be towed by other ships. It cost over $1,000,000 to build and could produce up to ten gallons of ice cream every seven seconds.
  • 2019 – On average, Americans eat up 23 pounds of ice cream every year.
Advertisement, The Peabody Enterprise, May 16, 1919
Advertisement, Jordan Marsh,
The Boston Traveler,
December 8, 1966
US Senator Edward Brooke, circa 1970
Photographer: Ray Wallman

Peabody has a history of delicious ice cream from local shops like Treadwell’s, Chandler’s and Artie’s – just to name a few. We want to hear from you – what is your favorite Peabody ice cream spot – past or present?

Peabody Historical Society & Museum Library and Archives
Funderburg, Ann Cooper. Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream, 1995, 124, 143.
Sammarco, Anthony. A History of Howard Johnson’s: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became an American Icon, 2013.