Who invented ice?

An Edwards story that I hadn’t heard before.

Who invented ice? Fredric Tudor.

Obviously ice is a large part of the world, but nobody thought of it as a salable commodity until 1805. Tudor was a wealthy Boston kid with an unbreakable passion for sailing and trading. He knew that spices were the source of many fortunes, but spices were inadequate for preserving food. Most of the time spices only made spoiled food halfway edible, which led to unnecessary illness.

New England had ice, and New Englanders were using ice occasionally to store food. But ice was really needed in warm places, and Tudor saw the potential for profit. His first try was a complete failure. He hired men to cut up a frozen pond, and simply loaded the ice into the hold of a ship sailing for Martinique in the Caribbean. The ice melted soon, and the crew had to spend most of their time bailing. Only a little was left when he reached Martinique, and then he realized that the people there didn’t have any money.

Tudor gradually figured out how to ship the ice using layers of straw as insulation, and found closer and richer markets in New Orleans and Mobile. He had to develop the selling
end as well. People didn’t want to put ice in their mouths, and didn’t believe it would preserve food. He broke the ice with lemonade stands. First he offered free samples of fruit drinks with pieces of ice, then sold the iced fruit drinks, then expanded the concept to broader uses of ice in boxes.

Tudor was the King of Ice until mechanical refrigeration took over.

As I’ve noted before, delivered ice still dominated household refrigeration until 1945, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Most cities were wired for electricity by 1920, so electric refrigerators “should” have taken over at that point.

Incidentally, today is Iced tea day and also Herbs and Spices day.