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The scoop on ice cream

K.E.THOMAS

Ice cream has history, geography and the politics of America mixed up in it. A popular theory holds that ice cream was invented in 280 B.C. by the Chinese, who mixed snow with milk and rice and called it "Rice ice cream". But the real thing came in 1846 when Nancy John, a New Jersey housewife, devised the first hand-cranked icecream maker. The first ice cream cone was of waffle. When a vendor at St.Louis World Fair in 1904 ran out of cups, the waffle maker in the booth next door offered his waffles. The vendor then rolled up the thick waffle to hold the ice cream, and thus was born the "cone ice cream".

The "sundaes" have a different story to tell. Sundaes came not because more ice cream was sold on that day than any other day of the week.The story goes that in 1920, an ice cream parlour operator in Ohio, after years of trial and error, got the idea of selling the ice cream on a stick and succeeded and finally got a patent on his invention. At the turn of the century, some one in Wisconsin asked for ice cream topped with syrup: a confection usually served in soda drinks. The owner tasted it himself and decided to offer it on his menu. But he felt he could not afford to sell the expensive syrup every day. So he offered the dish only on Sundays. When the dessert became a hit with customers, he started serving it every day of the week. He changed the spelling to `Sundae' to shake off the `Sunday' association. The biggest sundae on record was 12 feet high and made with 4667 gallons of ice cream and 7000 pounds of toppings.

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