Alfred L. Cralle’s Ice Cream Scoop

Day 23 of black history month, I admit this is a less world-shaking accomplishment than some of the stuff I’ve been highlighting, but: in 1897, age 30 years old, an African-American hotel porter named Alfred L. Cralle patented an invention he’d developed in the years prior – an ice cream scoop.

You know the kind I mean. The kind where you squeeze the handle and a little built-in scythe scissors across the half-orb spoon, and a perfect sphere of ice cream drops out, and you did it one-handed. THAT ice cream scoop. (Cralle’s first design was actually more conical, you can see from the drawings. But you have to start somehwere.)

Can you imagine inventing that? Can you imagine that ice cream scoop not existing, and then one day, you say, wait a second…

Probably a lot of people would tell you it’s a goofy idea and they can’t really picture it and who needs something like that anyway? But if you are Alfred L. Cralle, you push forward, and you are right to do so.

I’d put this invention on the same level as the corkscrew. I’d put it above the kazoo. (I love kazoos.) It’s definitely above the ice cream cake. It’s below pencil sharpeners that work well (but above the ones that break the graphite over and over again, or sharpen the wood past the part you write with. Those are no good.)

Hats off to you, Alfred L. Cralle. Hats off to your “Ice Cream Mold and Disher.” If I’d really been on top of things, I’d have commemorated it on February 2, its patent anniversary.

By the by (extra fact since I missed day 22), the method of making ice cream by using an outer container of ice mixed with salt to cool the cream and sugar mix down was developed by African-American chef Augustus Jackson. He was a cook at the White House in the 1820s, then moved to Philadelphia to develop a very lucrative confectionery and catering business, including many popular ice cream flavors. But as far as I can tell, he took his recipes TO THE GRAVE, so we can only imagine.

(When I imagine, I imagine sampling them using AN ICE CREAM SCOOP, you know the kind I mean, which wasn’t invented until decades later, but this is my dream.)