'Ice Cream: The Whole Scoop' gives visitors a self-guided tour through the history of America's No. 1 frozen treat.
By MILAN PAURICH
"You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!" If that's your rallying cry in warm weather months, Cleveland's Western Reserve Historical Society has an exhibit running now through Sept. 3 that you definitely won't want to miss.
"Ice Cream: The Whole Scoop" gives visitors a self-guided tour through the history of America's No. 1 frozen treat.
Filled with kitschy memorabilia, fun facts, and nifty interactive gizmos for kids, "The Whole Scoop" is as delicious as a hot fudge sundae -- but without the calories.
Good Humor history: The first thing you'll see as you begin your adventure into ice cream lore is an authentic 1967 Good Humor Ice Cream Truck. When Good Humor trucks like this stopped rolling across the U.S. in 1976, 200 million miles had been logged by industrious Good Humor Men and Women.
Did you know that the Good Humor bar was invented by Youngstowner Harry Burt? It was Burt, the proprietor of a local ice cream parlor, who came up with the idea of selling ice cream on a stick and patented it in 1920. When Burt died in 1926, a group of Cleveland businessmen bought the rights to Good Humor and turned it into a novelty phenomenon.
Flavored personality: Ever wonder what your favorite ice cream flavor says about your personality?
According to a study conducted by Edy's Grand Ice Cream, vanilla-lovers are colorful, impulsive risk-takers who set high goals. Those who prefer Double Chocolate Chunk tend to be creative and highly dramatic. You can find out the often surprising results of this less-than-scientific inquiry by lifting a wooden panel identifying your flavor of choice. Handels fans are out of luck, though; Chocolate Pecan isn't one of the selections.
Chilled to perfection: There are step-by-step instructions on how to make the perfect ice cream sundae, soda and banana split, as well as some arcane trivia. For example, in Evanston, Illinois, there was once a law forbidding the sale of ice cream sodas on Sundays. Despite its early reputation as a "health-giving drink," many considered it to be an intoxicant. And the banana split was invented at a Latrobe, Pa., soda fountain in 1904.
By the way, 1904 is the same year that the ice cream cone was invented. It happened at the St. Louis World's Fair, and the Menches Brothers of Akron are credited with designing and selling the first waffle cones. In 1924, Clevelander Carl Rutherford Taylor manufactured the first ice cream cone rolling machine.
Want to know how to say "ice cream" around the world? By pressing a button, you can learn how to ask for your favorite dessert of choice in Polish, Chinese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish.
Parlors: Among the most popular features of the exhibit are the simulated Victorian ice cream parlor, one of the only places unescorted ladies could be seen in public, and a mock-1950's luncheonette. The luncheonettes, considered the original fast-food restaurants, were an off-shoot of 1930's drugstore soda fountains. Both look so cozy and inviting you just might want to sit a spell. Unfortunately, there isn't any counter service.
In a section devoted to Ohio ice cream parlors -- heavily slanted toward Cleveland legends like Paul's and Telling's -- you can jot down memories of your own favorite ice cream hang-outs.
Along those lines, there's a cornucopia of Dairy Queen artifacts dating back to DQ's beginnings in 1939 Illinois. Prices on some of the vintage advertising -- 40 cents per pint; 65 cents for a hot fudge brownie delight -- are sure to raise a chuckle. And kids can run the store using play money and food at a mock DQ walk-up window.
Vintage settings: Antique mavens are sure to get a kick out of the voluminous collection of ice cream scoops. The first scoops, called "dishers" or "dippers," required the use of two hands. Spring-loaded scoops, which could be operated with one hand, came along by 1900. Among the treasures on display is a 1930 Rainbow Scoop used at a Warren Isaly's store.
Even stranger than those vintage scoops are the wacky 19th century ice cream molds (Eskimos, stockings, artichokes, seashells, foxes). The molds originated in 17th-century Europe and didn't become popular in the states until the 1800s. The increasing availability of ice cream cones in the early 20th century soon signaled their demise.
Also featured are glass and porcelain ice cream sets with silver servers, knives, forks, and spoons from the 1870's when ice cream was still considered the province of the wealthy.
History in U.S.: Although nobody really knows how old ice cream is, Chinese recipes for milk-based frozen desserts hark back to 3000 B.C. But today's more familiar dairy creations originated in 16th century Europe and made their way to our shores in 1700.
America's first ice cream parlor opened in New York City in 1776, and President George Washington was allegedly a big fan of the stuff as well. His ice cream tab for the summer of 1790 was a then-astronomical $200.
While there's no Hokey Pokey Man on the premises, you can pick up a Good Humor bar in the gift shop on the way out. After immersing yourself in all things ice cream, it's the perfect conclusion to an educational and enjoyable afternoon.