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Cool: The Story of Ice Cream

by Marilyn Powell

Most people just eat ice cream. They buy it in a cone one muggy day, consuming the majority before its chocolatey contents melt messily onto their beach towels. Within moments, it’s as if the crème delicieux never existed. Who knew it could be so sensationally complex?

In Cool: The Story of Ice Cream, Marilyn Powell takes a romantic walk through the history of ice cream: its evolution, technological advances, political implications, and even its sexual innuendo and taboos. “The very voluptuousness of the stuff, you see, set in motion a different way of dealing with the world,” writes Powell, referring to the way society reacted to its first exposure to the treat in the early 20th century. Powell points out that “ice cream was judged to be dangerous because it helped break down social inhibitions, adding ‘a new element of sexuality to public eating.’”

Powell’s casual, straightforward writing style draws us into happy childhood moments and reminiscences over Mom and Pop ice cream shops and Coca-Cola floats. She outlines the possible origins of ice cream and looks at the controversies the dessert has attracted. For instance, according to the British Women’s Temperance Association of the early 1900s, teenagers were known for “congregating in [ice cream parlors], gambling in them, and using bad language in them.” It was even asserted by official police testimony in Glasgow that prostitution could be traced back to girls “hanging about” in these shady establishments.

Powell’s book is highly informative, well researched, and ideal for reading on your back deck this summer