Chocolate Strawberry And Vanilla Summary

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The evolution of the American Ice Cream is a story that is filled with myths, legends, and uncertainty. Anne Cooper Funderburg, author of the book Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla, captures this fact vividly in her discussion of the invention of the ice cream soda and the ice cream cone. Noting that there are numerous conflicting accounts surrounding the invention, commercialisation, and spread of these crucial innovations in America’s consumption of ice cream, she outlines each of the stories that she finds credible and provides her judgement of their plausibility. From the perspective of the study of history, however, the fact that the author elected to include conflicting accounts within her historical narrative raises interesting questions:…show more content…
Upon closer reading, the similarity between both sets of legends, as well as the individual stories themselves, are rather apparent. All of these stories involve individuals who started out in life running small businesses at the periphery of society: concessionaires, newsboys, and immigrants. The origin of the invention tends to come from unexpected places, whether it is reflexive responses to emergency situations of running out of sweet cream and ice cream plates, a spark of unexpected inspiration to combine two unlike foods, or the power of a child’s imagination while attempting to have fun. Most of the individual then choose to capitalise upon their discovery, improving their invention, selling their ideas to large corporations, or building their own factory and becoming prosperous business owners. Many of them struggle through business and political intrigue as they became increasingly important and wealthy - for example, fending off imitators and competitors, resolving conflicts with business partners, and obtaining mysterious foreign wives. In many ways, the stories in both sets of legends fit nicely into the narrative arch of an archetypical “rag to riches” story rooted in the narrative of the American Dream - the idea that, regardless of one’s station in life, hard work, skills, and luck can result…show more content…
For example, the author felt that she was able to establish that sources agree that the ice cream cone was likely first popularised at the World’s Fair at St. Louis in 1904 as well as the likely circumstances surrounding its invention – the usage of the Middle Eastern “zalabia” as a container for ice cream. In comparison, the exact details seem to be a bit murkier in the invention of the ice cream soda, with dates of invention ranging from 1858 to 1878. However, taking a critical look at the sources cited by the author also reveals possible limitations in the author’s investigation of these stories. For example, she has a clear preference of written sources from the industry, citing reports published by the Soda Fountain Manufacturers Association and Dairy Queen. She justifies this decision by arguing that businesses are more credible sources because “ice cream was [their] business”, believing that businesses have an active interest in recording the historical truth. There is also a clear preference towards secondary written sources, be it publications from the industry, newspaper interview, or transcriptions of earlier oral sources. While some of this is to be expected for research carried out over a century after the occurrence of historical events, one is also left to wonder what stories,
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