Beyond Chocolate and Vanilla: The Delicious History of Ice Cream

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Duration 00:59:29

Culinary Historian

Sarah Lohman is a culinary historian and the author of the bestselling book Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. She focuses on the history of food to access the stories of diverse Americans. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as on The Cooking Channel and “All Things Considered.” Formerly the Curator of Food Programming at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, she has presented across the country: from the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the New York Public Library to The Culinary Historians of Southern California. Her current project, Endangered Eating: Exploring America’s Vanishing Cuisine will be released in January 2023.



In the 16th century, alchemists discovered the secret to lowering the freezing temperature of water to zero degrees Fahrenheit. In less than a century, chefs were using this technique to create the world’s favorite dessert: ice cream!

This talk will take a fascinating look at the history, science and social impact of ice cream. Culinary historian Sarah Lohman will guide you through the stories of some classic—and not so classic–ice cream flavors: from chocolate and vanilla, to ambergris and brown bread. We’ll talk about what gives ice cream it’s unique scoopable softness, as well as the impact of ice cream parlours on 19th century feminism and sexuality. You’ll discover which came first: the ice cream sandwich or the ice cream cone?  We’ll even look at the surprisingly old origin of Dippin’ Dots (turns out the ice cream of the future was actually conceived over a century ago!)

Join us to look into ice cream’s past to discover what might be next for its future!


Discussion Questions:

  1. If you could try one flavor of historical ice cream, which one would you taste?
  1. Which is the more important flavor to world cuisine: vanilla or chocolate?
  1. Think of the Italian ice cream vendors at the turn of the century. Have you noticed other ways in which immigrants have used food as a way to become financially successful and established?




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