Springtime Means Ice Cream Churning Time!

By Colleen Luckett

The sun is starting to break through the clouds more often, and the days are longer. It’s always a great time of year: spring. Along with the warmer weather comes outdoor activities neglected over the cold winter, long walks on the beach, and grabbing an ice cream cone. And those of you with your very own ice cream churn know ice cream is just an arms-length away! But what are the origins of this awesome contraption?

 

Ice cream for the masses became widely affordable in the 1800s, when American ingenuity led to the invention of the insulated ice house and the practice of ice harvesting. As is the case with many ingenious women in American history, the inventor of the first hand-cranked ice cream churn was, in fact, a woman—New Yorker Nancy M. Johnson. In 1843, Johnson applied for a patent for her hand-cranked ice cream freezer, with a movable crank and a center paddle to churn the mix. After turning the crank for 45 minutes or so (much less labor than stirring with a spoon), voila! delicious ice cream. Johnson sold the patent to William Young who later marketed the machine as “the Johnson Patent Ice-Cream maker.”

 Hand-cranked ice cream churn invented and patented in 1843 by New Yorker Nancy Johnson. Courtesy U.S. Patent Office.

Hand-cranked ice cream churn invented and patented in 1843 by New Yorker Nancy Johnson. Courtesy U.S. Patent Office.

 

Some 30 years later, White Mountain Freezer Company entered the ice-cream-making scene. The company, which manufactures ice cream makers and is the largest establishment of its kind in the world, started in Laconia, New Hampshire, in 1872. Thomas Sands was inventor, proprietor, and manager, and the enterprise was a success from the start. In fact, White Mountain still exists today. They continue to sell thousands of hand-crank ice cream churns, despite electric churns having been available for more than 50 years. Their website invites customers to “turn ice cream into memories.”

I attribute this phenomenon to how the ice cream churn was touted as a “family-bonding” experience throughout the years. It made a couple of appearances in my own family: My father used to sit on top of his grandfather’s hand-cranked churn to keep it still while cranking and, in turn, I did the same for my grandfather during my many summer visits to his farm in Florida. In my own nuclear family, our electric-churned ice cream never stuck around for more than a few days. I couldn’t keep my hands off it!

 White Mountain hand-cranked ice cream churn, similar to those used by my grandfather and great-grandfather.

White Mountain hand-cranked ice cream churn, similar to those used by my grandfather and great-grandfather.

 Today's ice-method churns have electric motors that save the labor of cranking by hand.

Today's ice-method churns have electric motors that save the labor of cranking by hand.

 

Of course, despite my proclamations of hand-churned ice cream’s deliciousness, I’m now far too lazy and impatient to wait. So, I’m okay with good old super market ice cream. And by the by, did you know Koffee Kompanions also has Kream Kollars? These are Thinsulate-insulated ice cream pint wraps that keep the ice cream cold and your hands comfortable when you hold it. I love using mine when I settle in for a good movie!

 

Does your family still use a hand-cranked ice cream churn? If so, comment us a picture of you using it here, and you may be eligible for a FREE Kream Kollar— when you’re also a little too tired to fire up the churn!

Happy spring!

 
Perry LuckettComment