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Tulsa Shaved Ice History

Tulsa Shaved Ice History

Tulsa Shaved Ice History

In this article we’ll cover two main sections of history:


Tulsa Shaved Ice History

A sweet, frozen dessert is something we all crave in the middle of a scorching Oklahoma summer. With shaved ice stands in Tulsa and shaved ice trucks driving around Oklahoma delivering this treat all However, it wasn’t modern minds which came up with the idea for beating the heat with ice-based treats. No, shaved ice has been around since even the ancient times. While they didn’t gain their mass appeal until modern times, shaved ice has been served to rulers in Japan and Rome. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at the long and, dare we say, delicious history of the household delicacy that is shaved ice.

Shaved Ice History

Ancient History

Shaved ice is ancient, finding its roots in Japan in the 8th century B.C. Originally, shaved ice was made with mountain snow as a delicacy for royalty.
This was found in more places than just ancient Japan, though. In the Roman Empire, there are some accounts claiming Nero Caesar requested mountain snow to be made into a dessert with flavored syrup. The syrup they used would have been different to our modern flavor syrups; Caesar likely ate his snow with fruit and honey for flavoring. Nonetheless, it’s clear that shaved ice has been a favorite since even ancient times.

Similar to what the Japanese did, during the Roman Empire, legends say that the Roman emperor sent his servants to get snow from the mountains and bring it to the city, where flavored syrup was added. This is considered to be the first true frozen dessert.

Modern Era

Snow cones are an old dessert, originating back in the 1850s in the United States. Initially, they were ice chips handed out to children by ice wagon drivers, and flavored with egg custard. As time went on, the snow cone continued to grow in popularity. In the 1860s, Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii by the thousands, and they brought shaved ice with them. As time passed, and some of the Japanese immigrants opened stores, they sold shaved ice flavored with the local flavors of Hawaii.

In the late 1800s, some theaters began serving them to their upper-class patrons. By 1919, Samuel Bert invented the snow cone machine, and tested it out during the Texas State Fair. Needless to say, it was a success.

When the Great Depression struck the United States, shaved ice was one treat which endured, as they were relatively inexpensive, making them a good item to sell. The process became easier in 1934, thanks to a man in New Orleans who invented the block ice shaver. No longer did shaved ice need to be made entirely by hand. When World War II broke out, shaved ice became the go-to replacement for ice cream since ice cream was being shipped overseas as a treat for the U.S. Navy.

These days, shaved ice and snow cone stands are commonly seen during the summer, offered with many colorful flavors and toppings. No matter the day or age, it doesn’t seem like snow cones are going anywhere anytime soon.

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