The first frozen dessert is credited to Emperor Nero of Rome. It was a mixture of snow (which he sent his slaves into the mountains to retrieve) and nectar, fruit pulp and honey. Another theory is Marco Polo, 13th century bard and adventurer, brought with him to Europe from the Far East recipes for water ices....said to be used in Asia for thousands of years.
In 1700 Governor Bladen of Maryland served ice cream to his guests.
The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776.
Dolly Madison created a sensation when she served ice cream as a dessert in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812.
Italo Marchiony sold his homemade ice cream from a pushcart on Wall Street. He reduced his overhead caused by customers breaking or wandering off with his serving glasses by baking edible waffle cups with sloping sides and a flat bottom. He patented his idea in 1903.
Others link the ice cream cone's invention to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. An ice cream vendor there reportedly didn't have enough dishes to keep up with demand, so he teamed up with a waffle vendor who rolled his product into "cornucopias."
Invention of the ice cream soda is usually attributed to Robert M. Green, who operated a soda water concession in Philadelphia. Green, who sold a mix of carbonated water, cream, and syrup, apparently ran out of cream and substituted ice cream, hoping his customers wouldn't notice. But they did and daily sales receipts climbed from $6 to $600.
During the stuffy Victorian period, drinking soda water was considered improper, so some towns banned its sale on Sundays. An enterprising druggist in Evanston, IN, reportedly concocted a legal Sunday alternative containing ice cream and syrup, but no soda. To show respect for the Sabbath, he later changed the spelling to "sundae."
In 1843, New England housewife Nancy Johnson invented the hand-cranked ice cream churn. She patented her invention but lacked the resources to make and market the churn herself. Mrs. Johnson sold the patent for $200 to a Philadelphia kitchen wholesaler who, by 1847, made enough freezers to satisfy the high demand. From 1847 to 1877, more than 70 improvements to ice cream churns were patented.
The first commercial ice cream plant was established in Baltimore in 1851 by Jacob Fussell.
In 1983, Cookies 'N Cream, made with real Oreo cookies, became an instant hit, climbing to number five on the list of best-selling ice cream flavors. It also holds the distinction of being the fastest growing new flavor in the history of the ice cream industry.
In 1991, another flavor phenomenon was created -- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, which combines the best part of the Chocolate Chip cookie -- the raw dough -- with creamy vanilla ice cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips.