Sweet talkers: Panel will discuss history of ice cream

Sweet talkers: Panel will discuss history of ice cream
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They are the cream of the crop!

A group of four ice cream experts will discuss the history of the tasty treat at the Brooklyn Historical Society on July 28. The foodie-in-chief of the “Brooklyn Screams for Ice Cream!” panel says that audiences can expect to get the inside scoop on the borough’s best frozen dairy creators of the past and the present.

“What I really like to do is weave history in with the modern perspective,” said food historian Sarah Lohman. “We’re going to learn about what’s important about making ice cream, its texture, its flavors, and what makes the ice cream makers tick.”

Lohman will moderate the discussion with ice cream historian Laura Weiss and representatives from Van Leeuwen and Ample Hills, two of the borough’s hottest cool treat vendors.

The frozen dairy delights have always held a special place in Brooklyn, said Lohman. In the early 19th century, ice cream only cost a nickel, and people from all backgrounds could afford a scoop.

“People would buy ice cream if they had five cents to spare, or if they were on Wall Street,” she said. “It was a uniting factor in New York.”

Brian Smith, the owner of Ample Hills, will speak at the event and also bring samples of his history-inspired flavor “The Commodore,” a combination of salted honey ice cream, honeycomb candy, and chocolate covered potato chips. Smith named the delectable treat after Cornelius Vanderbilt, a ferry captain on the East River who allegedly invented the potato chip when he demanded his cook cut his potatoes thinner.

Ample Hills has become a Brooklyhn institution over the last few years, with shops in Prospect Heights and in Gowanus. Smith — whose favorite flavor is a take on a deconstructed rice krispie treat — says that his secret is designing “fun, playful flavors that don’t take themselves too seriously.”

Smith said that ice cream brings joy no matter what the time period.

“It’s one of those rare foods that sort of transcends culture and time and place,” he said. “It’s hard to be unhappy in an ice cream shop.”

“Brooklyn Screams for Ice Cream!” at Brooklyn Historical Society (128 Pierrepont St. at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, www.brooklynhistory.org). July 28 at 7 pm. $12.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Photo by Stefano Giovannini