A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 12, 2004
Ice Cream Sandwich
Several newspaper citations indicate that the "ice cream sandwich" was invented (or at least popularized) about July 1900 in New York City. One newspaper citation mentions Wall Street and another newspaper citation mentions the Lower East Side as the place of origin.

A New Hampshire author included a recipe for "ice cream sandwiches" in a book published in 1894.

Google Books
Ralph Green's Receipt Book
By Ralph Green
Concord, NH: Republican Press Association
Pg. 122:
Cut into thin slices a pound cake or rich sponge cake, then spread them quickly with any kind of ice cream. Put the slices together. You may use two kinds of cream on each sandwich if you choose. Arrange on a dish and serve at once, or they may be served singly on tea plates. if the latter way, a small rose or some other flower may be laid on each sandwich.

17 July 1898, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), pg. 28, col. 6:
Ice Cream Sandwiches.
Ice cream sandwiches, from slices of ice cream between lengths of cake, are new and palatable. For evening parties it is novel to serve these.

Google Books
Ices, and how to make them:
A popular treatise on cream, water, and fancy dessert ices, ice puddings, mousses, parfaits, granites, cooling cups, punches, etc.

By Charles Herman Senn
London: Universal Cookery and Food Association
Pg. 69:
(Ice Cream Sandwiches.)
This is a most convenient and dainty way of serving almost any kind of ice. The ice wafers manufactured by Mssrs. Peek, Frean &Co. are best adapted for this dish. These wafers being quite plain and of delicate light make, the true flavour of the ice is in no way impaired. When the ice cream or water ice is sufficiently frozen to allow it being spread, cover a number of ice wafers with a layer of the ice; place a wafer on the top of each like a sandwich. Pack them in a charged ice pail or cave, place a paper between each layer, and keep thus till required for table. Messrs. Peek, Frean & Co. supply a most useful Ice Cream Sandwich suitable for this purpose.

29 June 1900, The Reading Daily Times and Dispatch (Reading, PA), pg. 8, col. 3:
It is an Ice Cream Sandwich, and Purchasers Are Pleased.
New York, June 28. -- A new delicacy made its appearance in Fulton street this afternoon. The fakir who was selling specimens of it so rapidly that he fairly boiled with perspiration, called it an "ice cream sandwich." It looked like a piece of ordinary coffee cake, with a dab of cream on it, but whatever it was, there could be no doubt that it pleased the purchasers and the nickels rolled in so rapidly that the vender had no time to pocket them, but tossed them with a well stimulated carelessness into a tin bowl among the "sandwiches."
(This was reprinted in other newspapers, where it was credited to the New York correspondent of the Pittsburg Dispatch. -- ed.)

Chronicling America
22 July 1900, New York (NY) Tribune, pg. B13:
(Reprinted 25 July 1900, Washington Post, pg. 4)
Devices of Street Merchants and Others to Attract Patronage.
The ice-cream sandwich man, who sells quarter-inch layers of alleged ice-cream between tiny slabs of water wafers, did a big business during the hot spell. His field of operation was within the district inhabited by the Russians, and his pushcart was elaborately decorated with signs in Hebrew characters. He made the sandwiches quickly in a tin mould, and was kept so busy that he could not make change, but insisted on receiving the actual price for each ice cream sandwich -- one cent.

19 August 1900, Washington (DC) Post, pg. 15:
From the New York Telegraph.
The ice cream sandwich is a new hot weather luxury which is rapidly coming into downtown favor. An enterprising hokey-pokey vendor, whose daily station is in John street, is the projector, and his push cart is constantly surrounded by a jostling, sweltering crowd of patrons, representing all social conditions, from banker down to bootblack and newsboy. The inventor takes a graham wafer, deftly plasters it with ice cream, claps another wafer on top, and there is your ice cream sandwich. The cost is trifling, ranging from 2 to 3 cents, according to the size and thickness of the thing. But the man is simply coining money, where he eked out a meager revenue before. He has simply tickled the public's fancy for something new.

24 August 1900, Long Branch (NJ) Record, pg. 4:
All Wall Street Buying Them nowa-
days, to the Profit of the Inventor.
The latest thing that the purveyors to the gastronomic demands of the office boys, messengers and clerks in the Wall street district are supplying to their patrons is the ice cream sandwich. It made its first appearance during the hot spell of last week. A young man showed up with a wagon and began to descant on the value of his wares at the corner of Nassau and Wall streets. He soon had a crowd around him, and the first man that tried an ice cream sandwich bit into it gingerly. It was made of two graham wafers and a slab of ice cream between. The wafers were fresh and crisp and sweet and the ice cream was good. Then, too, it had the advantage of being cold in addition to being palatable. The cost of the sandwich was one, two and three cents, according to the thickness of the slab of ice cream

This new edible made such a hit that its fame spread through the Wall street district the first day and the young man who invented it did not have enough of stock to satisfy the demand. The second day the brokers themselves got to buying ice cream sandwiches and eating them in a democratic fashion side by side on the sidewalk wit hthe messengers and the office boys. All of the other ice cream and lemonade vendors saw that they were outclassed and immediately began to sell imitations. The young man held the bulk of the trade, however, throughout the week.

9 September 1900, Dubuque (Iowa) Sunday Herald, pg. 11, col. 6:
A Novel Refection That Is Sold from
Pushcarts in the Bowery
of New York.
There are ham sandwiches and salmon sandwiches and cheese sandwiches and several other kinds of sandwiches -- a down-town restaurant advertises 30 varieties -- but the latest is the ice-cream sandwich. As a new fad the ice cream sandwich might have made thousands of dollars for its inventor had the novelty been launches by a well-known caterer, but strangely enough the ice cream sandwich made its advent in an humble Bowery pushcart and is sold for a penny, says the New York Mail and Express.

The idea is worthy of a better field, for the ice cream sandwich is not only a distinct novelty, but has merits of its own. It will be appreciated by the child who on eating ice cream for the first time wanted to have it warmed. While losing nothing of its flavor, the thin wafers which go to make up the sandwich help to modify the coolness of the ice cream, so that it can be eaten more readily. The ice cream sandwich as made on the Bowery is constructed in this wise: A thin milk biscuit is placed in a tin mold just large enough to receive it. Then the mold is filled with ice cream from a freezer and another wafer is placed on top. There is an arrangement for forcing the sandwich out of the mold when complete, and the whole process takes only a few seconds. The ice cream sandwich man is the envy of all the other pushcart restaurateurs on the Bowery, as he has all the patrons he can attend to and the cart is always surrounded by curious customers.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, July 12, 2004 • Permalink

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