Eat A Dish of Ice Cream Every Day

7.31.2022 [archived ~ originally published 7.9.2015]

This was the heading for an advertisement from the City Drug Store in Deer River in 1916. The ad also stated that the consumption of ice cream was lowering the death rate in the United States because it is a “health-giving food”.  Patrick Daley and Frank Sanger, the owners of the drug store at the time, proudly proclaimed “There is nothing purer and more wholesome than ICE CREAM.  When made of pure ingredients, under sanitary conditions.  We are using DEER RIVER CREAMERY CO’S ICE CREAM entirely, which is made of the purest cream, flavors etc. obtainable and is therefore of the highest food value easily digested, and healthful, and is made under the best sanitary conditions.”

Actually, the Deer River Creamery was making quite a name for itself.  It began operations in October 1914 and less than a year later the creamery’s butter took first place out of 171 entries for the 6th district in a test conducted by the Minnesota Dairy and Food Department.  The creamery began making ice cream shortly thereafter.  Up until this point, ice cream made at home was a time-consuming, but a greatly enjoyed luxury.

By the mid-1920s ice cream novelties and special desserts were finding a place in northern Minnesota.  

Bigfork“Harry Gravelle, who is always on the look-out for desires of his patrons, started in handling ice cream last Saturday in his confectionery department.” Bigfork Times 2-19-1925

Effie – “Anderson and Poole at Effie have installed in their ice cream parlor recently the soda fountain and other fixtures formerly used by Mr. St. Peter in his place at Deer River.  The improvements that Messrs. Poole and Anderson are making in their place of business certainly indicates that they are striving to please their patrons and the manner in which they cater to the requirements of the public is such that they are well deserving of the liberal patronage they are receiving and a continuation of same.” Bigfork Times 6-4-1925

Deer River – “Your Biggest Money’s Worth for a Nickel – ‘Sandy Ann’ The New Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Confection.  Served on Sticks. Try One Today. RYAN’S” Itasca News 11-12-1925I could not find anything more about the Sandy Ann, so I wondered if William Ryan, the owner of the confectionery, tried his hand at the ice cream novelty craze.

Chances are that the ice cream parlor in Effie, as well as many others, followed a recipe book such as “The Dispenser’s Formulary – 1925” to make fancy ice cream sundaes which had become popular.  Here is one which is appropriate to our region:

Bull Moose Sundae – “Place a No. 10 scoopful of ice cream in a sundae glass; pour over the cream a ladleful of chocolate marshmallow dressing, add a spoonful of chopped nuts and top with a chocolate bud. Stand two froufrou wafers, one on each side of the cream, to represent the horns of a moose. Prepare the marshmallow cream as follows: Make a smooth paste with chocolate and hot water and add to the marshmallow cream. About one ounce of chocolate to a quart of cream will give the desired flavor. This sundae sells readily for 15 cents.”  The froufrou wafers appear to be similar to the cream filled wafers most of us have had stuck in the side of a malted milk or shake from an ice cream merchant.

In 1930 the Department of Agriculture and the National Dairy Council stated that the per capita consumption of ice cream in the United States was climbing.  In 1905 it was 1.04 gallons and in 1928 it was 2.9 gallons.

“The consumption of ice cream has been increasing steadily.  Any increase means that the dairy farmer has larger outlet for the product of his industry, and that the public enjoys in greater measure, those benefits which accompany consumption of sufficient quantities of nourishing, satisfying, and healthful foods – in the list of which foods dairy products stand so very high.” Grand Rapids Herald Review 6-4-1930

Johnson’s grocery store in Deer River advertised that they would start selling Eskimo Pies on Saturday, April 5th, 1930.  The Eskimo Pie was invented by Christian Nelson, a Latin teacher from Iowa.  He had trouble getting the chocolate to adhere to the ice cream until he consulted his friend Russell Stover who advised him to add a little cooking oil to the chocolate.  Nelson made and sold 500 I-Scream Bars at a local fireman’s picnic, which were quite a hit.  He then paired up with Stover and in 1921 the renamed Eskimo Pie was introduced.

Also in 1930, the Radio Candy Shop in Grand Rapids advertised two unique features. Curb service and the Real Rainbow Cone with “seven different kinds of ice cream.” All of the information I gathered on this specialty cone indicated there were five types of ice cream, so either seven was a misprint or the candy shop followed a different recipe.  The Real Rainbow Cone was invented by Joseph Sapp in Chicago in 1926.  He tried many assortments of ice cream but settled on this winning combination: chocolate on the bottom, followed by strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with walnuts and cherries), pistachio and orange sherbet, on top. 

By the mid-1930s electric companies such as General Electric, published cookbooks loaded with recipes to encourage consumers of the advantages of owning an electric refrigerator.  This recipe, from the News, may have come from such a cookbook.  A cousin and I had fun making the Caramel Ice Cream, but I would recommend caramelizing the sugar in the pan you choose for the top of the double boiler, so you are pouring the scalded milk into the caramel sauce.  There should be less chance that the caramel will harden if you do it this way.  Of course, double boilers are a thing of the past, so improvise as best you can. 

“Here’s something to make in your electric refrigerator, that will be just the right texture, not too hard nor too soft:

Caramel Ice Cream

2 cups rich milk, ¾ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, I cup cream.

Scald milk.  Caramelize sugar (melt in heavy saucepan, stirring until syrup becomes a light brown color).  Add to milk in double boiler.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add salt and cornstarch mixed with a little cold milk.  Cook ten minutes, stirring until thickened.  Cool and add vanilla.  Turn into freezing tray and freeze to mush.  Fold in whipped cream.  Return to freezing compartment until of proper consistency.” Deer River News 10-31-1935.

The old refrigerator at the cabin does not keep ice cream frozen, so I have decided to go to the Sportsman’s Restaurant in Deer River for an ice cream sundae!  And incidentally, 2014 statistics indicate that the United States is the second highest country (New Zealand is first) in ice cream consumption with more than five gallons per person.

1 Comment

  1. Vickie says:

    This reminds me of Dr. Pepper, which used a marketing strategy in the 1920s and 30s telling people they should drink it three times a day. A fun read. Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts.


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