Ice Cream Sandwich . . . an American Story

big vanillaWhat could be better than a dish of creamy, delicious ice cream?  How about portable ice cream?  Americans have long been enjoying the ice cream cone, an inspired invention that allows us to enjoy the frozen treat while walking around.  The ice cream sandwich is yet another clever way to bring ice cream with us outdoors in some of our favorite settings like baseball games and the beach.  Do you know who we have to thank for creating the best sweet sandwich?

According to the book Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making by Jeri Quinzio, the ice cream sandwich was created in 1899 by an unknown pushcart peddler in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City.  These sandwiches consisted of vanilla ice cream pressed between two thin graham wafers.  The treat was revolutionary not only because it was hand-held and portable, but also because the heat from the hands helped to soften the ice cream, making it easier to eat.  The early predecessor to the ice cream sandwich was a slice of vanilla ice cream cut from a larger slab known as an “okey-pokey” that was sold by street vendors in London.

In July of 1900 The New York Tribune, the popular newspaper of the time, published an article about the pushcart vendor who was selling the sandwiches.  According to the article the man was so busy pressing the sandwiches to order into a tin mold that he didn’t have time to make change and insisted that customers pay the exact price of one cent.

The modern ice cream sandwich that we know, a slice of vanilla between two rectangular chocolate cookies, was invented by Jerry Newberg who sold ice cream at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.  Today the frozen sandwich takes all kinds of forms and is enjoyed all over the world.

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