BRYAN COUNTY HISTORY: Ice cream

Bryan County Genealogy Library

“It has been proven by doctors and food experts that good, pure ice cream has more real food qualities and will build more actual strength than most of the food we are eating nowadays. It has also been proven that it is a real tissue builder.” From an ad for the Durant Ice Cream Company, 20 West Evergreen, 1916

This cold, creamy treat would be absent from our summer menus if it had not been for the discovery that the addition of salt lowers the melting point of ice. That made it possible for nearly anyone to make ice cream and they quickly began experimenting with the best ways to do just that. A 1751 edition of “the Art of Cookery” includes a recipe for ice cream; the bowl of cream mixture is simply set into a larger bowl of ice and salt. The first home freezer consisted of the familiar wooden bucket with a metal container inside. However, the contraption had to be shaken by hand. In 1848 Nancy Johnson invented a dasher, gear, and handle system similar to what we use today.

Caddo residents were barely settled on the prairie when The Oklahoma Star of 1875 carried an ad for U. M. Cooper’s business urging customers to “get a dish of ice cream to cool off your innards”. Ice cream was served at parties, fund raisers, box suppers, and special occasions. At the close of the 1894 school year, Mrs. M. C. Poole treated the students of the Presbyterian Mission School to 7 gallons of ice cream. In 1898 John L. Maxwell boasted in the Durant Times that “I make ice cream that is ice cream- the genuine, unadulterated article”.

In 1901 Lamb’s advertised “ice cream freezers, water coolers, refrigerators, and croquet sets”- the perfect combination for summer. J. K. Brooks had an ice cream parlor in Durant in 1904. That same year the “walk away cone” was introduced at the World’s Fair and gave customers another way to enjoy it.

In 1905 the Independent Farmer published an article about the “Ice Cream Trade”. There were articles in several newspapers encouraging farmers to invest in cows. In 1908 there was a butter and milk shortage and the papers again encouraged farmers to add more cows to their stock.

In April of 1912 J. G. Colvert opened the Durant Ice Cream & Creamery on East Main. In September of 1913, he sold it to W.M. Jensen of Coolidge, TX. In January of 1914 the Jensen brothers went before the Chamber of Commerce requesting help to build a 40x60 two-story building. They also requested help in obtaining contracts from local farmers for the milk from 1,000 cows. In April an item in the paper stated that a deal had closed between the Jensen Brothers and S. A. Whale for a two-story building to be constructed on First Avenue. In 1917 Mr. and Mrs. G. G. Hill of Calera drove Misses Myrtle Pyle, Lena Pearl Sharp, and Lucille Duncan to visit the Durant Ice Cream Factory, where they “feasted on all the ice cream they could stand”. The factory was located at Katy and Evergreen.

In the thirties and forties other purveyors of ice cream joined the ranks. Many of you may be familiar with the name of “Slew” Hewitt. Your parents may have eaten at the Double Dip ice cream store at 201 W. Evergreen. No matter where it was made or how it was eaten, ice cream was and remains one of Bryan County’s favorite sweet treats.

Bryan County History is a weekly feature contributed by members of the Bryan County Genealogy Library and Archives in Calera. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group. Is there a historic event or topic you want to read about? Contact the library at P.O. Box 153, Calera, OK 74730.