100 Years Ago in Iowa History: A Popular Dessert is Patented
When you think of unique Iowa inventions, you probably think along the lines of advances in farming or manufacturing, right? Maybe you think of the advancements made in engineering? You likely don't think, culinary. Or specifically desserts. But on this day in history, an Iowan patented a still very popular frozen treat!
100 years ago: The Eskimo Pie is born
The year was 1922, 100 years ago. Danish immigrant Christian K. Nelson of Onawa, Iowa files a patent for what would quickly become one of the dessert institutions for children everywhere. Nelson would create the Eskimo Pie. Now, what's interesting is Nelson was not in the food industry. He was actually a high school teacher.
However, according to Food Reference, his brush with dessert decidence came back in 1919 or 1920, the story goes Nelson overheard a young boy debating what to have as a snack. The child was torn between spending his money on ice cream, or a chocolate bar. Nelson thought about what would happen if the youngster could have both, in one snack. This inspired him to create what he originally called the "I-Scream Bar". I guess I scream, you scream...
The concoction sold very well locally. So well that in 1921, Nelson teamed with Russell Stover, yes that Russell Stover, to mass-produce the bar. Under the suggestion of Russell Stover's wife, the frozen snack was renamed the Eskimo Pie. The patent was issued on this day in 1922, and the rest is history! Kind of ironic an ice cream treat was patent by an Iowan in January, no?
Success comes FAST, and Nelson gets rich
The snack was an immediate success. With roughly one million bars a day being sold. Stover sold his shares and started a chocolate company that, to this day remains a household name. Nelson sold his share of the business to the United States Foil Company, which was later rebranded as Reynolds Metals Company.
They were responsible for making Eskimo Pie wrappers. Nelson was wealthy enough to retire but decided to return to the Reynolds Metals Company until his retirement in 1961.
The Eskimo Pie today
The chocolatey treat remains popular today which dozens of variations and brands selling products that are very similar. The name Eskimo Pie was changed due to sensitivity over the name. The treat is owned by Dreyer's, and today is known as Edy's Pie after Dreyer's co-founder, Joseph Edy.
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