There was actually a time when ice cream wasn’t. Perish the thought, especially now since July is Ice Cream Month and it is our nation’s favorite dessert! I’ve read different accounts of when ice cream was introduced. Some say it originated in China and made its way to Europe via Marco Polo some time around 1254-1324. So it’s been with us a long, long time? Well, not really. It took centuries before a method to produce it commercially was developed. It was introduced in England in the early 1600’s and was a favorite dish of royalty.
It wasn’t the fact that it’s ice cream month that got me started on this subject for “shirlandyou.” No oddly enough, it was a video on the life of Dolley Madison. And it made me wonder what happened to Dolly Madison Ice Cream? In the 1940’s- 1950’s and even into the 80’s. it was a popular brand sold everywhere.
And according to what I’ve read, “Dolly Madison Ice Cream” was named for a very distinguished lady. From 1809 to 1817 she was the first lady of the United States, the wife of the fourth president, James Madison. She was noted for being a great hostess and her frequent social events helped increase the popularity of her husband as president. She served ice cream in 1813 to guests at the inaugural ball. Ever since, this dessert became a beloved treat here, although it took nearly a century until it was popularized and mass-produced. She made a splash in the social scene by offering up ice cream at the White House and her favorite flavor was strawberry. She also became a heroine when during the war of 1812, as the British arrived in Washington D.C. she saved the painting of George Washington and important documents, the original drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Soon after, the British burned the White House to the ground.
Dolley was remembered as a sweet person and early in the twentieth century products began to be named after her. The letter “e” was dropped from her name and in addition to “Dolly Madison Ice Cream,” there was Dolly Madison Hats, Dolly Madison Shoes, a doll, watch, Bakery, and Diary, even Popcorn. By the way, a street in Greensboro, North Carolina is named after her. So what happened to the “Dolly Madison Ice Cream,” I remember? I would have to do some research on this subject.
Maybe some of you still make ice cream the old fashioned way, with a crank freezer. It wasn’t until someone discovered that adding salt to ice made it colder and this method became practical. Into the outer edge of the freezer went 4 inches of ice and a cup of rock salt. These amounts were repeated and two cups of water added, then the cranking began. The whole family got involved here, beginning with the youngest and the adults taking over when cranking got difficult. It took some time for inventors to manufacture and improve special ice cream processing and freezing equipment so ice cream could be produced in an economical fashion.
So what did my research show? It wasn’t as simple as I thought. I looked and looked, went from one internet site to another before I had a breakthrough. I found an obituary of a woman who died in January 2012 and had been employed by “Dolly Madison Ice Cream Company” in Wilkes Barre. Getting close, I thought, but that company no longer exists. I found mention of Yost’s Restaurant, in Benton where the ice cream was served. International Bakery Company is still making Dolly Madison Snacking Cakes, popular especially in the south. They also own Hostess, Wonder and Drake’s and that may include Twinkies. I thought I was calling the IBC Bakery Outlet when I put a call through to Ronkonkoma, New York. “No, said Loretta, “this is ‘Big Apple Ice Cream’. We’re located in the Bronx” “Do you carry “Dolly Madison Ice Cream?” To my delight her answer was, ” yes.” She said,”We distribute it in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island.” Then she asked where I lived. When I said near Wilkes Barre, she said she didn’t think they went that far. “Did I have a store?” I explained that I was doing a blog about Dolley Madison. This reply went over her head and we ended our conversation with her saying,”I’ll have our salesman call you.” He didn’t. I later learned that Calip Dairies, Inc. is located there so I believe the ice cream is also made there. My search was complete. Who knows, maybe in our travels we’ll get the opportunity to eat “Dolly Madison Ice Cream” again. We’ll have no problem recognizing it because the company still uses the original logo. Since we’re on the subject, what’s your favorite ice cream? Mine is “Moose Tracks,” and I’m certain Dolley Madison never served that flavor.