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The U.S. dairy industry produces more than 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream a year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. Americans eat 48 billion scoops of ice cream a year—$20 billion worth. Photo by Kei U. | Fotolia.




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July 2006
Last Updated April 2013

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Ice Cream

The History Of Frozen Custard

Page 6: The Invention Of Frozen Custard


This is Page 6 of an eight-page article on the history of ice cream. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.


1919: Frozen Custard

  • Credit for the accidental invention of frozen custard is often given to Tom Carvel. However, the real credit seems to belong to the unheralded Archie C. Kohr, who re-configured an ice cream machine in 1919 and added eggs to the recipe to create a light and fluffy product that “tasted just like a custard.” He was a big success at Coney Island in New York City, and while he did not become a household name, Kohr Brothers is still selling frozen custard made from Archie’s original recipe, and has stores in 10 states. You can read more about it here.
  Kohr Brothers
Archie Kohr of Coney Island, not Tom Carvel, invented the first frozen custard.
  • The history books generally give credit for launching the category of frozen custard, or soft-serve ice cream, to Thomas Carvellus, who sold ice cream from the back of his vending truck. As the story goes, he got a flat tire in Hartsdale, New York during the 1934 Memorial Day Weekend; his ice cream started to melt so he started to sell it the partially melted, creamy stuff as something new. It was a huge hit and soft ice cream was born—or perhaps, born again.
The original Carvel store. Photo courtesy Carvel.
  • Carvellus opened a modest Carvel Frozen Custard store in 1934 in Hartsdale, and in 1936, according to the company website, he opened another ice cream store named Carvel, and went to work developing ice cream machinery. He built his first soft-serve ice cream machine in 1939—20 years after Archie Kohr and his futuristic-looking machine above at left. Carvel was a true innovator: he was the first to offer “buy one, get one free”; the first to franchise an ice cream store; and his patented glass building was copied by McDonald’s. Dairy Queen opened its first soft-serve ice cream store in Joliet, Illinois in 1940. Carvel’s Flying Saucer sandwich was introduced in 1951.


Continue To Page 7: Ice Cream Novelties

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