The weather is getting hotter and hotter. It’s ice cream season again. Today we can buy ice cream in a shop, many people sale ice cream by electric freezer tricycle or bike. Many people love ice cream. Have you ever thought about this question: when was ice cream invented? Before the invention of refrigeration technology, did the ancients have ice cream to eat?
In fact, the answer may surprise you: not only ice cream, but also “cold drinks” can be traced back to at least thousands years ago.
So the question is: How did the ancients eat ice cream?

1.the birth of cold drinks
Eating something cold in summer seems to be the basic physiological need and enjoyment of human beings. Records of “cold drinks” can be seen in every corner of human history.
According to records, Persians began to mix ice cubes with various spices and rose water to make cold drinks similar to ice cream. At that time, this kind of cold drink was exclusive to the royal family and was specially consumed in summer.
As for the invention of Chinese cold drink, it is generally said that it was as early as the Zhou Dynasty. At that time, there was a way to freeze milk and rice into ice. This may be the earliest cold drink in China.
In the first century A.D., Emperor Nero of the Roman Empire invented the method of taking ice on the mountain and then eating it with fruit, honey and ice, which is very similar to today’s smoothie.
No matter in China, Persia or the Roman Empire, cold drinks were very luxurious at that time. Generally, only emperors and privileged classes could enjoy them.
Now we must have seen that in ancient times, there were not only cold drinks, but also very rich cold drinks. Even things like today’s ice cream can be found. However, the key question is: without a refrigerator and refrigeration technology, how do people make these cold drinks in summer?

2. ancient “refrigerator”
In fact, in the days when there was no refrigerator, the ancients used “ice cellars” to store ice. The “ice cellar” was invented by the Chinese 4000 years ago,
The ice cellar is usually built near a freshwater lake. In winter, when the lake water turns into ice, people transport the ice to the ice cellar and wrap hay around it to keep the temperature.
The ice cellar is cold and humid. If there is enough ice, even in summer, the ice will not melt completely. The ice can be used to make cold drinks and preserve food.
Besides the ice cellar, there are also ice wells. In hot summer, the temperature of deep well is much lower than the ground. It is also a common practice for the ancients to use deep well to store ice. This may also be the origin of the word “deep well ice”.
But the problem is, if you want to eat cold drinks, you can’t just have an ice cellar, because the temperature in the ice cellar is not enough to completely freeze the cold drinks. Our current ice cream basically takes shape in an environment below minus ten degrees Celsius. How did ancient times solve this problem?

3. development of refrigeration technology
In 200 BC, the ancient Chinese discovered that if saltpeter was placed in ice, the melting point of ice would decrease.
Now we know that the main component of saltpeter is potassium nitrate, and the freezing point of potassium nitrate solution is lower than that of pure water. This is the same as throwing salt on the snow to melt it
The ancients at that time certainly did not know this, but they knew that as long as ice and snow were mixed with saltpeter, the ice would melt automatically and absorb a lot of heat during the melting process. If you put a bucket with liquid food in the middle of the ice, the liquid food will be frozen!
With this little skill, all kinds of ice cream were made and eaten by people at that time. From the invention of the Chinese people to the end of the 19th century, this method has been the mainstream method of ice cream making. It has experienced the test of more than 2000 years.
After a long period of development, this technique gradually matured and was called the pot freezer method in the West. The salt used for cooling is not limited to potassium nitrate, and some will directly use table salt to achieve cooling.
Later, in the 1840s, the technology was improved, and the Americans invented the “hand cranked churn”. Although the principle of using salt to melt ice and absorb heat is still used, it has improved the efficiency of ice cream production to a level that previous people can not reach, and the ice cream made with this kind of thing is more smooth.
Finally, in the 1950s, the first ice cream factory came out, and ice cream realized industrialization. At that time, ice trade was in full swing in the United States. Every day, countless cargo ships carrying ice traveled to and from hot and cold areas, creating unique conditions for the prosperity of ice cream factories.
In the 1870s, refrigeration technology was invented, and people could finally get ice anytime, anywhere, regardless of the weather. All kinds of ice cream products, such as ice cream soda, sundae and cone, were invented at this time.

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