By Michelle H.

What do Emperor Shang of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, Mrs. Mary Eales of England, and America’s own George Washington have in common?

Ice cream!

One of our favorite desserts has its origins in Asia and the Middle East. Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Nero were known to partake of flavored ice drinks made with ice cut by servants. Emperor Shang, who ruled China briefly in 710, drink a yogurt-like drink made from fermented mare’s milk and flavored with camphor, which was chilled in ice pools.


Eventually, recipes for “ices” and frozen dishes made their way to Europe. Antonio Latini, a steward for dignitaries in Italy, wrote the world’s first book of sorbetto recipes. One of his recipes, a milk sorbet, is widely regarded as the first documented ice cream.

These iced treats made their way to France and to England, where Mrs. Mary Eales published her recipe for ice cream, the first published in English, in 1718. One of her cookbooks may still be viewed online at Project Gutenberg: Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts.

In the early 1700s, European immigrants carried their recipes across the Atlantic to America. A colonial Virginia governor exposed George Washington to ice cream, and he became a big fan. Washington had 10 ice cream pots made from tin and pewter in his kitchen at Mt. Vernon, and guests were served the dessert by Washington both at his home, and while he was President.   

Thomas Jefferson even had his own recipe for ice cream

Finally, folks needed something safe and portable to serve their ice cream in. Enter Agnes B. Marshall. Nicknamed the “Queen of Ices”, for more than 20 years she was one of the biggest food writers of the Victorian era. Ice cream and sorbets were her specialty. Agnes was the first to publish a recipe for homemade ice cream cones, or “cornets.”

Ready to break out your ice cream maker and try your hand at this yummy dessert? Take a look at these tasty EVPL titles, and have a cool summer!

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Michelle H.

Michelle H.

With 8 locations throughout Vanderburgh County, EVPL is ready to discover, explore, and connect WITH you! We encourage you to uncover new things, revisit old favorites, and to engage with us along the way.

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