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Ice Cream Freezer Patent Day

Hand cranked ice cream freezer

Hand cranked ice cream freezer
© Bengt Oberger / wikimedia / 2012 / CC BY-SA 3.0

9 September

The patent for the first hand-cranked freezer was awarded to Nancy M. Johnson of Philadelphia on the 9th of September in 1843.

She received US Patent 3,254 for an "Artificial Freezer": "Be it known that I, Nancy M. Johnson, of the city of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania, have invented a new and useful Improvement in the Art of Producing Artificial Ices...."

To use her device, you put a container of liquid ice cream mixture into another larger container packed with ice and salt, and cranked by hand until the ice cream was frozen. She even gives a tip in her patent on how to save money on expensive salt: "When the economy of salt is particularly important, I effect it by evaporating the salt water derived from the salt and ice, thus making a very limited quantity of salt serve for an indefinite number of successive operations."

Note that she doesn't claim to have invented the hand-cranked method; merely to have made improvements in it.

Ice Cream Freezer

A second patent was awarded five years later. On 30 May 1848, William G. Young of Baltimore, Maryland, received US Patent 5,601 for "An Improvement in Ice-Cream Freezers." [1]

"Many devices have been resorted to for expeditiously freezing ice-cream, but all have found to be defective. The best now in use is that known as "Johnston's", [2] which is, like the ordinary freezer, with a revolving shaft inside it, on which are two curved wings that move round and cause the cream to revolve in the freezer and be thrown to the outside. I find that the operation is greatly facilitated by causing the freezer itself to move rapidly as well as the cream inside. To effect this I construct the freezer with the cover firmly attached...."

Literature & Lore

Caution To Ice-Creamers. The Nantucket Inquirer of the 9th inst. says: "A quantity of lemon ice cream had been put into a tin freezer on Tuesday morning, and allowed to remain there, in a liquid state, until Wednesday noon, when it was frozen, and about thirty gentlemen and ladies ate pretty freely of the cream. The consequence was that they were all made sick, a few of them so severely, that for an hour or two during the night, it was feared they would not recover. All, however, are now convalescent. The action of the acid in the mixture on the tin lining of the freezer for more than twenty-four hours produced an active poison, and the sufferers may congratulate themselves that they escaped with only being made sick. A tin vessel of vanilla cream stood unfrozen in the same way, from Tuesday till Wednesday, but those who ate of that were not at all injured by it." ((Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Adams Sentinel. 19 July 1847. Page 1.))


[1] There were only fourteen patents issued that day, and William G. Young's was the only one of those fourteen for an ice cream maker -- despite what you might hear about Johnson's being patented on this date as well.

[2]. Mispelling of Johnson in Young's submission.

See also:

All September food days

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Oulton, Randal. "Ice Cream Freezer Patent Day." CooksInfo.com. Published 01 August 2005; revised 11 December 2010. Web. Accessed 03/18/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/ice-cream-freezer-patent>.

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