Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
In the era before mechanical refrigeration, ice had been as important an ingredient in ice cream making as cream, but supplying it was hardly big business. Like many others, Frederick Tudor’s family harvested ice from a pond on their property near Boston, Massachusetts, and used it to make ice cream. Tudor saw the business possibilities in ice harvesting and decided to sell the ice in the West Indies. Despite a lack of interest from investors, he obtained the right to sell ice in Martinique in 1806, harvested enough to fill a ship, and set sail. The venture was a financial failure: much of the ice melted en route; moreover, Frederick’s brothers, who had gone ahead to make arrangements, failed to provide an icehouse for storage once the shipment arrived. Nevertheless, Tudor persuaded a local restaurant owner to use the rapidly diminishing ice to make ice cream, and the local newspaper hailed his achievement.