If you grew up in the 70s or before, or even in the 80s, you are probably familiar with the childhood chant about ice cream: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! It’s a catchy little jingle that evokes memories of hot summer days and the excitement of the ice cream truck rolling through the neighborhood. But did you know that this chant originated as a commercial slogan for a particular ice cream product? And that product, my friend, is none other than the iconic Eskimo Pie.
The Birth of a Classic
The Eskimo Pie, originally known as the I-Scream bar, was the brainchild of Christian Kent Nelson, a Danish immigrant and store owner. It all started in a small candy shop in Onawa, Iowa, where Nelson taught math, Latin, and psychology at the local high school. One day, a young boy came into his shop and couldn’t decide between a chocolate bar, ice cream, or some other candy treat. The boy lamented, “Sure I know – I want ’em both, but I only got a nickel.” And that’s when the lightbulb moment struck Nelson: why not combine chocolate with ice cream in one handy treat, so customers wouldn’t have to choose?
Nelson set to work, dipping bars of ice cream into melted chocolate. It wasn’t an easy task at first, as he struggled to make the chocolate adhere to the ice cream. But with a little experimentation and the help of a chocolate “bon bon” salesman, who suggested adding cocoa butter to the chocolate, Nelson finally achieved success. The result was a bar of vanilla ice cream coated in a crispy chocolate shell – the I-Scream bar.
From I-Scream to Eskimo Pie
The I-Scream bar quickly gained popularity in Nelson’s shop and at local events. It was a hit, but Nelson knew that catchy branding was essential for long-term success. That’s when he came up with the memorable advertising slogan, “I-scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” Some sources even suggest that it was originally “I-scream, you scream, we all scream for the I-scream bar.” Regardless, the catchy slogan stuck, and the I-Scream bar became known as the Eskimo Pie.
But the success of Eskimo Pie didn’t end there. Nelson teamed up with Russel Stover, superintendent of a local ice cream plant in Omaha, Nebraska. Together, they licensed ice cream makers to produce Eskimo Pies, and within a year, they issued 1,500 licenses. The demand for these handheld ice cream treats was overwhelming, and Eskimo Pies gained national fame practically overnight. In fact, one manufacturer claimed that the Eskimo Pie had single-handedly rescued the world cocoa market from a depression.
The Legacy Lives On
Despite the challenges they faced, including legal disputes and imitators, Nelson and Stover paved the way for the ice cream industry. They revolutionized the way ice cream was distributed, using dry ice to keep Eskimo Pies fresh and accessible in drugstores, hotels, and grocery stores. Nelson continued to innovate, creating the Eskimo Machine and the Eskimo Pie Jug, a portable cooler for selling Eskimo Pies anywhere.
Today, the Eskimo Pie remains a beloved treat, treasured by ice cream enthusiasts of all ages. Although the Eskimo Pie Corporation has changed hands over the years, its legacy lives on. In 2007, the brand was acquired by Nestle’s Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, ensuring that the magic of the Eskimo Pie will continue to delight ice cream lovers for generations to come.
So the next time you enjoy a delicious Eskimo Pie, remember the story behind this iconic treat. From its humble beginnings as the I-Scream bar to its rise to fame as the Eskimo Pie, this frozen delight has captivated hearts and taste buds for over a century. After all, who can resist the classic combination of vanilla ice cream and a crispy chocolate coating? I scream, you scream, we all scream for Eskimo Pie!