A frozen dessert made from cream, or a mixture of cream, milk, sugar, and usually eggs. It can also be made from a combination of milk products, usually cream combined with fresh, condensed, or dry milk, a sweetening agent as sugar, honey, corn syrup, or an artificial sweetener and flavourings such as pieces of chocolate, nuts, fruits, etc. Ice cream contains air, the more air, the lighter it will be.

As a precursor to ice cream, frozen “slushee” type drinks have been around since Alexander the Great. Before battles, he had ice brought down from the mountains and dug into troughs to cool his wine and spirits. Marco Polo is believed to have brought similar concoctions back from China--fruit juices and milks were used to diversify these cooling elixirs.

A freezing method using ice and salt was in existence since before the fourth century A.D., and used by India and China. The method was introduced to Europe in the mid 1600’s and ices made with sweetened milk appeared in Naples in 1664 to the delight of Italians.

Charles I, in the 1600’s paid his cook, Dimarco, an extra 500 pounds per year to keep his ice cream recipe a secret and a treat only for his Royal Table. After the beheading death of Charles I, Dimarco let the recipe be known to all of Europe.

Frozen confectionery desserts arrived in America during the 1700’s and noted Maryland governor Bladen enjoyed serving these icy treats to his guests. New York City was the site of the first ice cream parlour in 1774, opened by Phillip Lenzi. Also sold at his establishment were water ices and fruit candies.

After the dessert was imported to the United States, it was served by several famous Americans including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Dolly Madison (1812). In 1700, Governor Bladen of Maryland was recorded as having served it to his guests. In 1774, a London caterer named Philip Lenzi announced in a New York newspaper that he would be offering for sale various confections, including ice cream. The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776.

American Colonists first used term “ice cream,” which came the phrase “iced cream” similar to “iced tea” and later abbreviated to “ice cream”, the name we know today.

Sallie Shadd, a freed black slave, perfected ice cream as we know it today. She’d opened a catering business with family members and one of her customers was Dolly Madison, wife of President James Madison. Mrs. Madison enjoyed Sallie’s ice cream so much it became part of the menu at her husband’s inauguration in 1812 as well as the official dessert of White House dinners.

Hand-cranked ice cream freezers came along in 1846 and in 1851 James Fussell established the first commercial ice cream plant. Plain ice cream cones were invented in 1896 and waffle cones were introduced in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Over the years many flavours have been added to the original vanilla. It was only natural someone would try to improve on it so along came toppings - syrups, jams, nuts, maraschino cherries, whipped cream and more.