Old ice cream signage

Now the history of ice cream is a sketchy affair involving the Romans, French, English and even the Chinese! There are many different versions of how it all began but here’s our take on the story…


Let’s try and make some sense of it all...

It all begins during 400 – 500 BC with the people of the Persian Empire being the first to start making ‘ice cream’. They would pour grape juice concentrate over snow, and eat it during the hot summers. It was also the Persians who invented an ice cream recipe for their royal families. It consisted of iced rose water, vermicelli, saffron, fruits and other sweet flavours.

The Chinese used a frozen mixture of milk and rice to create their version of ice cream around 200 BC, these could be classed as the very first step towards what we now know to be ice cream.

Approximately 40 AD, Roman emperor Nero sent his servants up into the mountains to collect snow to use to make a frozen dessert that would be flavoured with honey, nuts, and fruit toppings, such as grape juice. The Persian and Roman versions didn’t contain milk or cream so can’t technically be classed as an ice cream, more flavoured ice!

Moving swiftly on! In the late 13th century, Marco Polo returned to Italy, with him he took the recipe for ice cream. Ice cream remained popular only in Italy until the marriage of Catherine de Medici and Henry II of France when ice cream was then introduced to continental France, and soon after that, the rest of Europe.

So, when does the UK catch on to this delicious dessert? Well, in this country, Ice Cream was first served at a banquet for the Feast of St. George at Windsor Castle in 1671. It was considered to be such an exotic dish that only the guests seated at King Charles II’s table were honoured enough to be served ‘one plate of white strawberries and one plate of iced cream’. The other guests could only look on with envious and greedy eyes!

Meanwhile, in America, the first official account of ice cream was before there was even a United States! The oldest account comes from a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland Governor William Bladen, who mentioned that the governor had served it to his guests.

There’s so much more to the history of ice cream, this is just the beginning. For now, we are going to sit and appreciate a scoop or two of our very own brand of luxury dairy ice cream, Ferneley’s Ice Cream. If you fancy trying some, pop down to The Dairy Barn Café for a treat. Take a look here - The Dairy Barn Cafe