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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ice Cream! Come and get your Ice Cream.

We have been having some interesting weather of late here in the D.C. region. D.C. can be a very hot and humid place in the summer, but that doesn’t stop tourists from visiting this city or from buying ice cream that will inevitably melt down their fingers in the heat. How did hot countries and countries at the height of summer ever get ice cream without the benefit of modern day freezers?

Dwight Eisenhower eating an ice cream bar.  AC0451-0000037.tif
Good Humor Ice Cream Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Well, ice cream and “ice cream trucks” actually has a long history. It is believed that ice cream originated in China starting with rice being mixed with milk and then stuck in the snow to freeze. Later the upper classes sent servants into the mountains to get snow so that fruit and juices could be added, creating an early form of sorbet. Of course, the working class could not afford such indulgences.

In the late 17th century, was one of the first places in Europe to serve ice cream to the general public was Café Procope in Paris, but it was still for the upper echelon and not a wide spread treat. Several early American Presidents loved ice cream, including George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson who created his own vanilla ice cream recipe . At this point, ice cream was more common, but it was still reserved for special occasions.

Good Humor Vendor with Pushcart. Neg. No. 92-11719.
Good Humor Ice Cream Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. 
Ice cream treats received some assistance from Carol von Linde, who invented industrial refrigeration in the 1870s. This invention along with many from the industrial Revolution made it much easier to produce, transport, and store ice cream and many other perishable items. Soon new and different flavors followed including the invention of ice cream soda.

“Won't You Have an Ice Cream Soda with Me” Sheet Music. Catalog No. 1982.0745.04.
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center. 

It was through the cafes of Paris that King Nasser uddin Shah, of Iran, first learned about ice cream, but it was his successor, Mozaffar uddin Shah, who brought bastani, or ice cream to Iran. Akbar Mashdi (Akbar Mashahdi Malayeri) was the first Iranian to vend ice creams. He was famous in Iran and was known as far afield in places such as Los Angeles and Paris. Mashdi was born in a remote village in 1868 and worked many different jobs before selling ice cream. One of his earlier jobs was transporting tea and sugar to northern cities and bringing back firewood to Tehran. Mashdi became friends with Mohammad Rish, who had ties with Mozaffar uddin Shah’s courtiers. This is how Mashdi became familiar with the tasty treat that is ice cream.

People at Maydan-I Mashq's ice cream cart in Tehran. FSA A.4 2.12.Sm.01.
Myron Bement Smith Collection: Antoin Sevruguin Photographs. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Gift of Katherine Dennis Smith, 1973-1985. 
When Reza Shah came to power Reza Khan, Mohammad Rish, and Mashdi seized the moment to found the first ice cream shop in Iran. Rish only stayed in the ice cream business for two years, but Mashdi would sell ice cream for the rest of his life. Due to a lack of modern refrigeration, Mashdi worked a lot in the wintertime and in the mountains near Tehran. People, including, Mashdi had to use natural refrigeration. To preserve ice cream during the hot summer months, they would dig very deep holes. Everyone from commoners to courtiers purchased ice creams from Mashdi.

Lara Amrod, Archivist
Freer | Sackler Archives

History of Ice Cream (Bastani) in Iran by Ahmad Jalali Farahani, June 2004
The History of Ice Cream by Emily Upton June 16, 2013

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