History of Ice Cream: China to Marco Polo

Three people with ice cream in their hands

We all love Ice Cream.

Although some people might have allergies to some flavors, there’s no way we are going to say “no” to Ice Cream after a heavy meal or simply as a dessert.

But there was a time when it did not exist.

I am delving into the sweetest topic ever talked about in the blog, and that is the history of Ice Cream.

Let’s jump into it.

The sweet, cold treat we know and love is as rich and flavor-filled as its contents.

THE TANG DYNASTY (Ancient Chinese Ice Cream)

The earliest known traces of ice cream take us back to the Tang Dynasty in China (618-907 AD). Records suggest that emperors enjoyed a frozen mix made with buffalo milk, flour, and camphor (yes, camphor!) for an unexpected flavor twist.

For all we know as of now, Ice Cream was frozen from the beginning of it!

Then the mix was refrigerated using natural methods like packing it in ice and salt, which is a precursor to modern-day ice cream making!

PERSIANS APPROACH (Early Frozen Desserts)

While the Chinese enjoyed their version of frozen milk, other cultures were experimenting with the early forms of frozen treats.

The ancient Persians, as far back as 550 BC, are said to have enjoyed a mixture of ice, honey, and fruit, a precursor to what we now call sorbet or sorbetto.

And as they say, when in Rome do as Romans do.

Emperor Remo from ancient Rome enjoyed a snow-based dessert flavored with fruits and juices, a luxurious treat for the elite.

MARCO POLO (What does he have to do with Ice Cream?)

I would say everything!

Although the origins of ice cream can be traced back to several cultures, some people credit Marco Polo’s travels with introducing the concept to Europe in the 13th century.

While this might sound ornamental, Marco Polo’s accounts of exotic desserts likely influenced ice cream makers of the time, leading to further experimentation and innovation in the thing we love most these days.

ICE CREAM MAKERS (Dynasty Tang, Dang!)

Returning to China, the Tang Dynasty saw a flourishing of ice cream innovation.

By the 7th century, recipes included ingredients like sugar, rice flour, and even spices like ginger and cinnamon, creating a complex and flavorful frozen treat.

Chinese were really into Ice Cream at that time of the millennium.

This innovation saw the development of hand-cranked ice cream makers, further solidifying the popularity of this refreshing dessert.

BEYOND TANG DYNASTY (We’re finally out of China!)

The ice cream continued to unfold through the centuries.

Finally landing at custard-based ice cream in 18th-century France, leading to the invention of the ice cream cone in the early 20th century.

Can you believe that? How did they eat ice cream back then? 🤔

This history of ice cream is a testament to our enduring love for this sweet and refreshing treat!

Explore the world of ice cream history further!

Discover how your favorite flavors came to be, learn about the evolution of ice cream-making techniques, or even try your hand at recreating an ancient recipe yourself.

The world of ice cream is waiting to be discovered. Stay tuned with Food Dilemma.

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