Today I Learned …

When the Eighteenth Amendment outlawed the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol in the 1920s, many American breweries such as Anheuser-Busch turned to making ice cream to stay afloat. (After all, the ingredients for ice cream — fat, sugar, and vanilla — are a decent substitute for alcohol in drowning one’s feelings.) In fact, ice cream stood in for alcohol as a source of national comfort so much that by 1929, ice cream consumption in the United States had grown to about a million gallons per day. This crashed, along with the rest of the country, in the Great Depression … but the Depression also brought us Rocky Road ice cream. We don’t know who actually invented the flavor, but it was popularized in 1929 by two ice cream makers from California. William Dreyer and Joseph Edy used “rocky road” as a culinary metaphor for the hard times the country was going through. Before this, toppings were primarily just available at the point of sale and sprinkled on top (think of the Dairy Queen business model). The idea of mixing marshmallows and nut chunks was weird, but people dug it. It was a reminder that life could be sweet, even when filled with broken, rocky pieces. (from The Secret History of Food, by Matt Siegel)

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