Back to all articles

The History of Ice Cream

It’s thought that the emperors of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) were the first to eat a frozen milk-like confection. Icy drinks were also enjoyed by wealthy ancient Greeks and Romans. In medieval times, an Arabic refreshment called sherbet, or sharabt, became popular in the Middle East as well as with the European aristocracy. In the 17th century, iced drinks were made into frozen desserts known as sorbet. Antonio Latini is credited with being the first person to create a milk-based sorbet, which historians generally consider to be the first true ice cream. In 1686, a Sicilian named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened the first café in Paris, Il Procope, where he served Italian gelato. Around the same time, French confectioner Nicolas Audiger began experimenting with an ice-cream-like dessert called fromage. It’s not clear how ice cream got to America, but it is thought to have arrived with colonists in the early 1700s. By this time, several recipe books had been published, and women used ice cream molds to serve cleverly shaped ice cream treats to guests in the home. In 1790, the first American ice cream parlor opened in New York. Notably, ice cream had many fans in America, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Today, ice cream is one of the most popular desserts in America. In fact, 9% of cow’s milk production is dedicated to ice cream!

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.