The history of the ice cream sandwich is a little bit foggy, but many signs point to it being an American food. In 1900 a man on the Lower East Side was said to have sold quarter-inch slabs of ice cream between two water wafers. Pictures from the Jersey Shore in 1905 show a horse-drawn cart selling ice cream sandwiches for one cent, and one of the first appearances of the modern ice cream sandwich was at Forbes Field, in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The New York Times even mentions the food as early as 1928. The ice cream sandwich spawned many frozen treats including the Eskimo Pie, originally called the I-Scream-Bar, and I was unable to find an instance of the ice cream sandwich being eaten in the world before its United States debut. The town of Blue Earth, in Minnesota, claims to be the birthplace of the ice cream sandwich, but fails to back up their claim to fame.
Last summer was when we realized that the ice cream sandwich might actually be something truly American. Michael, founder and creative director of Hong Kong Honey, was visiting New York working with our good friends at Brooklyn Homesteader. We all headed down to Parked! Food Truck Fest for some delicious treats and our excursion ended by sharing a couple of ice cream sandwiches from Melt Bakery. One was a chocolate concoction, and other was the inspired combination of ginger ice cream with lemon sable cookies.
Michael mentioned that he had never had an ice cream sandwich before, and we talked about how truly American the food was. He was surprised when he opened the package when it revealed cookies on the outside instead of bread.
We are big fans of the sandwich in general. Bier Kraft in Brooklyn makes some of the best sandwiches around, and their Shameless Ice Cream Sandwiches are no exception. They use Il Laboratorio Del Gelato and smash it between two homemade cookies, brownies, or blondies. On our most recent visit, as an appetizer to normal sandwiches, we shared the Salted Caramel Gelato & Oatmeal Raisin Cookie sandwich. While we would typically reach for something chocolate, and avoid the raisins, this sandwich was the right decision. Bier Kraft makes it pretty difficult to find a better frozen treat.
I thought ice cream on bread seemed strange until recently when my friend, Katrina, sent me a link to a Sicilian ice cream sandwich which held gelato between a sliced brioche roll. Upon doing a little research the first ice cream machine was invented by a Sicilian man in 1686. Maybe the first ice cream sandwiches really were served on bread. My mind is now spinning on what flavor should be placed on a freshly baked brioche roll. Any suggestions?