Commercial Ice Trade

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

By the nineteenth century, supplying ice for chilled and frozen confectionery, as well as for keeping perishable food from spoiling, had become big business. Wealthy people in major Western cities had iceboxes (early refrigerators), into which the local iceman delivered, on a regular basis, big blocks of ice. This business was labor and transport intensive and depended on the weather for the production of ice. In 1842 the entrepreneur Frederic Tudor began shipping ice from the United States to England, and in 1850 Carlo Gatti shipped ice from Norway to London. Other companies shipped ice from the United States to South America and even to India (Chennai’s famous icehouse stored ice shipped from the States by Frederic Tudor; it is now the Swami Vivekananda House). However, with the advent of mechanical refrigeration, this industry died out.