Thursday, October 5, 2023

Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks -- a Cool History of a Hot Commodity (Amy Brady)

Many of us have the ability to get an ice cube on demand from our refrigerator or are within a reasonable drive or walk to get ice cream from a stand or grocery store. The ability to chill and produce frozen concoctions of some sort is one of the modern conveniences that has had a long, winding evolution to get to its current state.  Author and historian Amy Brady chronicles the frozen journey in Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks – a Cool History of a Hot Commodity.

Brady’s book is a mostly entertaining story of how ice evolved from a regional means of keeping things cold to how we use ice today - not just keeping items chilled but also a key ingredient in any chilled drinks and desserts, as well as the year-round recreational pursuit of skating in an indoor rink. Ice shares the invention and technological advancement of ice making and refrigeration and the good (and bad) that resulted from it. Early pioneers in the field of artificial ice making were scoffed upon and ridiculed for their attempts at “playing God” while their technology was eventually co-opted and used in further advancements in refrigeration that became more widespread.

Some individuals who are prominent in the history of America’s ice trade and evolution of ice aren’t included in the story - many in Washington, DC, and in Ohio may know of Mike Uline’s business interests in both the production of ice and the indoor arena that had his name on it in our nation’s capital. However, other unique and even entertaining stories are included. Ice has played a powerful role in transforming American life and our economy over the centuries and Ice (the book) captures much of that story in an effective way.