We All Scream For Ice Cream (and Oysters!)

“Illinois wants more girls.  Open some free ice cream booths and you’ll fetch ’em”  -Burlington Free Press 1884

Ice cream might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Old West, but as early as 1880, ice cream parlors were all the rage and began springing up in the most out of the way places.

Marshal Wyatt Earp was an ice cream devotee and every afternoon he headed for the Tombstone ice cream parlor on Fourth Street.  It’s not hard to imagine that he was on his way to enjoy his favorite sundae when he got sidetracked by the shootout at O.K. Corral.  He didn’t drink, but he sure did love his ice cream.  He wasn’t alone.

     “That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.” (Last words). -Lou Costello           

Ice Cream parlors were popular throughout the west and some frontier towns had more than one.   Many restaurants, hotels and inns advertised Ice Cream and Oysters. Fortunately, the two weren’t served together; ice cream was the summer treat and oysters was a winter delicacy.  

Some parlors were quite fancy.  One in San Antonio advertised plush carpets, oak furnishings and stained-glass windows, but ice cream was also sold out of wagons (the first good humor men?) and tents.  Churches also got into the act and Ice cream socials rapidly grew in popularity.

Nothing says love like ice cream

Many a young man courted his lady love at an ice cream parlor. A Texas newspaper in the 1880s had this advice: “Love takes away the appetite.  If the woman of your dreams is on her third dish of ice cream, she’s not in love with you.”

The same newspaper also announced the wedding of couple who knew each other only fifteen minutes before tying the knot. But a successful marriage was assured as both had a passion for ice cream.

Then as now, the most popular flavor was vanilla.  Ice cream was flavored by fruit and even chocolate, but there were some strange flavors too (Avocado ice cream, anyone?)

Toward the end of 1880s, newspapers began issuing warnings against overindulging in that “insidious foe of health” ice cream, but as far as I could tell no one paid heed and no such warning seemed to exist for oysters.

So where did all that ice come from?

Before the train, ice was wrapped in sawdust and transported by wagons.  By the late 1880s, Tombstone had two ice companies; the Arctic Ice (two cents a pound) and the Tombstone Ice company (one and half cents per pound).

“Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.”-Voltaire

According to 23&me, people with my DNA prefer chocolate ice cream. Well, they got that right. So tell me your favorite ice cream flavor and I’ll tell you your personality type,  and you don’t even have to send me your DNA! 

 

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Margaret has published more than 46 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

56 thoughts on “We All Scream For Ice Cream (and Oysters!)”

  1. Love the post. And I love ice cream. 🙂 I really like chocolate mint chip or if they don’t have that I go for coffee. It pays to be prepared .:)

    • Hi Carol,
      According to the ice cream experts, chocolate mint chip lovers are truthful, trusting, loyal. Coffee lovers are bubbly and dramatic and tend to be over-committed.

  2. Good morning Margaret, I loved loved this sweet blog, yes pun intended!
    My favorite ice cream is chocolate. I love it as chocolate almond, chocolate peanut, or just plain ole chocolate.
    Thanks for teaching us the history of one of America’s Favorite summer and even winter treats!

  3. Good morning, thankyou for your post it was very interesting. My favorite ice cream is butter pecan.

  4. Sweet post, my favorite ice cream is vanilla or salted caramel. You just can’t beat an ice cream cone.

    • Hi Quilt Lady,
      This is what the experts say about caramel: You probably enjoy yoga or meditation, and work at a job that challenges you. You love cats and your wardrobe probably includes a lot of black things.

      Vanilla lovers are good-humored and independent and set high goals for themselves.

  5. Love this information on ice cream. When I was little my family hand the hand turn to make homemade vanilla which was amazing. My favorite is chocolate chip hands down next to homemade with fresh berries. Have a wonderful day and God bless.

  6. What a fun and informative post. I love ice cream and could eat it every day. Some of my oldest memories are of my grandparents eating ice cream every night. They never missed a night without it. My favorite has always been chocolate chip mint, but I recently discovered Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Now, that is my favorite.

    • Hi Janine,
      Mint Chocolate chip lovers are the people you want as neighbors during a blizzard. That’s because they’re survivalists and are always prepared for the future.

      Keeping this in mind, being a cherry lover makes sense, since they tend to grow their own produce and know how to make the most of life from the most basic means.

  7. Hi Margaret! I like Maple Nut. Every Christmas for years, I got out the old fashioned crank ice cream maker, chopped ice out of the lake to fill it, and made old fashioned vanilla ice. We gathered around the dasher and slurped our way to pure delight. Loved your post. Brought back sweet memories my friend.

    • Hi Kathy, ice cream does bring back sweet memories.

      Maple nut lovers tend to be nostalgic and love flavors that take them back to the past. They also have a sunny disposition and tend to laugh a lot!

  8. I never would have thought of ice cream in the Old West! I sure can picture wanting it but I never would have thought it possible! My favorite ice cream is chocolate almond. I also love dutch chocolate and it was my favorite when I was young. I do enjoy a soft serve vanilla cone though. If were talking homemade ice cream I’d go with vanilla because I just can’t get the flavor of chocolate right. Very interesting blog, I always learning things at P&P!

    • By the way, I can’t imagine eating raw oysters in the Old West, it immediately made me wonder how many people got food poisoning from them!

    • Hi Stephanie, oh, my. You sound like a well-rounded person.
      Vanilla ice cream lovers tend to like things simple and straightforward. Some people might consider you a little basic, but they just don’t understand classic beauty.

  9. Love it. My favorite ice cream flavor is peanut butter and chocolate. What a fun blog. Thank you for sharing.

  10. You did this for us on your newsletter. I loved Vanilla and Butter Pecan and Cherry Ripple

    • Hi Lori,
      Butter Pecan lovers never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They’re also devoted, conscientious, and very respectful. Cherry lovers are impossibly trendy and chic.

  11. A fun blog, Margaret. I always wondered when ice cream came on the scene in the West but I never stopped to find out. Interesting. My favorite ice cream is peach. Yum!

  12. I’m a vanilla girl all the way!! Though I will admit to also liking peanutbutter chocolate chip blizzards from our local Del’s Freeze!

    • Hi Trudy, vanilla ice creams says you like things simple and basic. Peanut butter lovers tend to put other people first. Those who like chocolate chips in their ice cream are known for being generous.

  13. Hi Veda, Moose Tracks! I love that ice cream, although I can’t get my family to stop calling it Moose Droppings. LOL

    Moose Track lovers are generally outdoor adventurers and love all things in nature. They also love to keep their days and nights as active as possible.

  14. What a fun post! I like ice cream, all kinds. One of my current favorites is Tillamook’s Mud Slide, a chocolate ice cream with big chunks of chocolate. Udderly Chocolate, part white chocolate and part chocolate, poured into the carton to give a pinwheel affect, is just as good. The best part about vanilla ice cream is you can add whatever flavors you want when eating it at home and this is fresh fruit season here in Washington State so we have lots of choices and lots of combinations.

  15. Hi Margaret! I love ice cream, any time of the year! Since I’m allergic to chocolate, I have to choose “other” flavors! I love pistachio almond, strawberry, anything with caramel or nuts and lots of fruit flavors like peach, raspberry, etc.!

    • Hi Valri, you’re the first to mention pistachio! According to the ice cream experts, that makes you highly individual. Your unique character and knack for exotic things makes you fun to be around and you have a great sense of humor.

  16. This really is a flavor, but not available except where they make their own – Maple walnut with bacon. One of my favorites. I love a good raspberry ice cream. Most don’t have enough flavor.

  17. Patricia, bacon ice cream? Wow. What will they think of next?

    Most of the personality tests were taken a while back, and none of the new flavors like bacon and maple were included. Fortunately, raspberry was and, according to the experts, you play by your own rules. It might come off as a little bit rebellious, but it also makes you incredibly interesting. Everything you do seems artsy or cool because you’re always on the cutting edge. Close enough?

    • It is a very flattering description. I think it has a bit of truth to it, at least about the bit rebellious and playing by my own rules. I don’t know how interesting I am, but I enjoy myself and do things that aren’t always ordinary.

  18. Hi Caryl, so glad you popped in. You’re the first chocolate chip cookie dough lover we’ve had. According to the experts, you’re an optimist. You’re also resourceful and probably into crafts. You’re drawn to bold patterns and bright colors and probably love dogs. Is any of this true?

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