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How did people make ice before freezers?

4596 day(s) ago

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People didnít make ice before freezers; nature made it. People didnít regularly preserve food by keeping it cold until just about 200 years ago, so refrigerator/freezer temperatures were not necessary for survival. That being said, ancient Roman and Incan civilizations were known to bring ice from cold places just to cool off or as a novelty.

The use of ice as a regular part of modern life is said to have begun in 1806 when a Boston businessman by the name of Frederic Tudor decided he was going to ship ice to the hot ports of the West Indies. The first shipment was nothing short of a disaster. Tudor had a huge chunk of ice cut from a frozen pond near Boston. He did a relatively good job of keeping it insulated, but he didnít consider how his buyers were going to keep it from melting.

Tudor became obsessed with the idea of marketing ice. He spent years selling insulated iceboxes for people to keep their ice in. He also began to advertise the refreshing quality of ice-cold drinks. In 1825, an associate of his invented a horse-drawn plow made for cutting ice from ponds and lakes on an industrial level. By 1833, Tudor had established a thriving business selling ice to folks in the southern United States and in Calcutta, India.

The methods used to keep ice cold involved only simple mechanics. Ice was cut in large chunks and packed tightly together in a double-walled, insulated storage house. Enough ice was harvested and stored in the winter to last through the summer. Early on, it was estimated that melting losses were as much as 90 percent. Towards the end of the 19th century, losses from melting dropped to about 35 percent.

At the beginning of the 20th century, most people had iceboxes used for food preservation. Ice was delivered door-to-door, and most homes had ice-chutes in the kitchen to ease the delivery process. As technology progressed, ice companies began to make their own ice, and by the 1930s the household electric refrigerator had been invented. Ice continued to be delivered, mostly in rural areas until the 1950s, but it eventually disappeared altogether.

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