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Who Invented Rocky Road Ice Cream?

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June 2nd is a day made for chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts. It’s National Rocky Road Day!  In the United States, the most popular way to eat Rocky Road is in ice cream.

The Rocky Road dessert was first created in Australia in 1853. Unscrupulous businessmen took confectionery items that had been spoiled by their journey from Europe and mixed them with local nuts as well as low quality chocolate. The name was used as reference to the rocky road that travelers used in order to access the gold fields.

Rocky Road ice cream, however, was invented by William Dreyer in Oakland, in 1929. He created an ice cream that included the same ingredients as the original dessert as a means to lift the spirits of those affected by the Wall Street crash.

William Dreyer used inspiration from his partner Joseph Edy’s chocolate candy to make rocky road ice cream. Dryer did something he was probably told a hundred times not to do. He used his wife’s sewing scissors to chop up marshmallows and walnuts and added them to chocolate ice cream. Of course, it tasted good, so he was probably forgiven for using her good sewing shears for anything but fabric!

Another who laid claim to the creation of rocky road ice cream was George Farren. He had simply blended a candy bar into chocolate ice cream creating the creamy dessert.

Soon after, the stock market crashed, and the ice cream was given the name Rocky Road to bring smiles to faces during the Great Depression.

  • Ice cream became available to the general population in France in 1660.
  • Ice cream was introduced to America in the 1700’s, but mostly enjoyed by those of status and wealth.
  • Americans celebrated the victory of WWII with ice cream. In 1946, they ate more than 20 quarts of ice cream per person.
  • The first commercial ice cream plant was established in Baltimore in 1851 by Jacob Fussell.
  • The U.S. enjoys an average of 48 pints of ice cream per person, per year, more than any other country.
  • Italo Marchiony sold his homemade ice cream from a pushcart on Wall Street. He reduced his overhead caused by customers breaking or wandering off with his serving glasses by baking edible waffle cups with sloping sides and a flat bottom. He patented his idea in 1903.
  • It takes an average of 50 licks to polish off a single-scoop ice cream cone.
  • The biggest ice cream sundae in history was made in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in 1988, and weighed in at over 24 tons.
  • The first known recipe for Rocky Road originated not in California, but in Kansas. Several editions of Rigby’s Reliable Candy Teacherwere published by W. O. and Fred Rigby beginning in 1909. For the 13th edition, copyrighted in 1920, they included a recipe for “Rocky Road,” which is a little weirder than today’s version, but very similar in key details: “Place a dish of chocolate ice cream in a sundae cup and over it pour a ladle of honey creme whip. Mix a few broken almond macaroons in with the whip and scatter whole pecans and walnuts lightly over sides. Top with a cherry.”


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