6 Things You Might Not Know About Ice Cream Sandwiches

bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images
bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, and this year marks the delicious delicacy's 120th birthday. But what exactly constitutes an ice cream sandwich? In America, it’s typically ice cream flanked between two chocolate wafer-like pieces with holes punched in them, but you can use biscuits, cookies, and a number of other treats as the "bread."

In the beginning, vanilla was the standard flavor for the filling of an ice cream sandwich, but flavors evolved to include Neapolitan (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry), and nowadays every flavor under the sun. In honor of the holiday, and the 120th anniversary of the treat's invention, let's pay tribute to the iconic frozen novelty.

1. New York City street vendors started selling ice cream sandwiches in the late 1800s.

No one is sure of the exact date the ice cream sandwich was first invented, but food writer Jeri Quinzio told The Boston Globe that the earliest versions of them were called hokey pokeys and that street vendors were selling them on the Bowery in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Back then, the humble sandwich was just ice cream held together with two pieces of paper. The cost of the frozen treat? One penny.

Quinzio cited an 1899 article in the New York Mail and Express, which stated: “There are ham sandwiches and salmon sandwiches and cheese sandwiches and several other kinds of sandwiches, but the latest is the ice-cream sandwich.”

2. The earliest known ice cream sandwich recipe used sponge cake.

According to the Food Network, the earliest known ice cream sandwich recipe wasn't made with biscuits, but two slices of sponge cake.

3. Ice cream sandwiches were developed as a cheap treat, but soon became a staple at high-end eateries.

Because the "sandwiches" were sold on the street, they catered more toward working-class individuals. However, the deliciousness of the treats quickly caught on and became a hit with Wall Street workers. On August 19, 1899 the New York Sun ran a story about the phenomenon, stating: "The brokers themselves got to buying ice cream sandwiches and eating them in a democratic fashion side by side on the sidewalk with the messengers and the office boys."

Eventually, high-end restaurants started serving them, and "Elite confectioners started using plates and forks in a dainty fashion, and saying [their sandwiches were] so much better than the ones sold on the street," Quinzio told The Boston Globe.

4. The ice cream cookie sandwich was born in San Francisco.

Chocolate chip mint ice cream cookie sandwiches
StephanieFrey/iStock via Getty Images

Cookies have become a popular alternative to the basic chocolate wafer in building an ice cream sandwich, and we apparently have California to thank for that. According to the Food Network, in 1928, an ice cream vendor in San Francisco decided to place a glob of ice cream between a pair of oatmeal cookies then dip the whole thing in chocolate. And a whole new kind of ice cream sandwich was born.

5. A baseball stadium food vendor gets a lot of credit for inventing the modern-day ice cream sandwich, but that might be because of Wikipedia.

According to various accounts, it was Jeremy Newberg—an ice cream vendor at Pittsburgh's former Forbes Field—who supposedly created the vanilla-and-chocolate ice cream sandwich: a perfect block of vanilla ice cream gently placed between two rectangular chocolate wafers. He made and sold these ice cream treats at baseball games in the 1940s.

The Boston Globe interviewed Newberg ;(who is now 91) and his family to discuss his contributions to the ice cream sandwich world. While Newberg confirmed that he did indeed sell the desserts at the stadium for a nickel apiece, his grandson Matt was less committal. Because Newberg has long talked about his role in the treat's invention, Matt explained that "as an ode to my grandfather, I cited him as one of the inventors [on] Wikipedia." Which is how Newberg's name has become so closely associated with the dessert. "We’re not sure he’s actually the inventor," Matt admitted, "but we call him that because we love him."

6. Other countries have their own versions of the ice cream sandwich.

While the ice cream sandwich is an American invention, the treats have inspired countries like Australia, Ireland, Singapore, Israel, Uruguay, Iran, and Vietnam to concoct their own versions. In Iran, there's the bastani-e nooni, which is saffron and rosewater ice cream served between two wafers and dipped in pistachios. Vietnam street vendors sell bánh mì kẹp kem, ice cream smashed between two pieces of bread—a bona fide sandwich—and topped with crushed peanuts.

10 Frank Facts About the Wienermobile

Business Wire
Business Wire

This year marks the 83rd anniversary of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, that effortlessly charming, street-legal marketing tool on wheels. The next time you’re in the vicinity of one—a fleet of six makes up to 1400 stops annually—take the time to reflect on the past, present, and future of history’s most famous locomoting hot dog.

1. The Wienermobile started as a kind of land sub. 


Oscar Mayer

In 1936, Carl Mayer, nephew of hot dog scion Oscar Mayer, suggested a marketing idea to his uncle: build a 13-foot-long mobile hot dog and cruise around the Chicago area handing out his “German wieners” to stunned pedestrians. Crafted from a metal chassis, the vehicle was operated by Carl, who could usually be seen with his torso sticking out from the cockpit.

2. The Wienermobile was once driven by "Little Oscar."

Throughout the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, Oscar Mayer enlisted various little people to portray “Little Oscar,” a company mascot sporting a chef’s hat. Little Oscar soon assumed piloting duties for the Wienermobile, waving to crowds and dispensing wiener whistles that kids could use to alert other children to the presence of the car in their neighborhood. Performer George Malchan portrayed the character from 1951 to 1987.

3. The Wienermobile disappeared for decades.

While novelty automobiles were all the rage circa World War II, Oscar Mayer saw interest wane in the 1960s and 1970s, as kitsch gave way to more contemporary advertising campaigns. But when the company put a Wiener back on the road for its 50th anniversary in 1986, they discovered a whole generation of consumers who were nostalgic for the car. The company ordered six new models in 1988.

4. Wienermobile drivers train at Hot Dog High.

Since resurrecting the marketing campaign, Oscar Mayer has trained aspiring Wienermobile drivers at Hot Dog High in Madison, Wisconsin. The company receives 1000 to 1500 applications for the 12 available positions annually, typically from college graduates looking for a road trip experience. Those selected for duty are given 40 hours of instruction and assigned a different region of the country. The company tracks their routes with a GPS.

5. Wienermobile passengers ride "shotbun."

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Wienermobile motorists—a.k.a. Hotdoggers—typically ride in pairs, with the driver keeping an eye on the road and the passenger acknowledging and waving to passersby who want to interact with the vehicle. This is known as riding “shotbun,” and the greetings are mandatory. Some occupants have reported that even after going off-duty, they’ll keep waving to other drivers out of habit.

6. The Wienermobile interior is just as delicious.

Wienermobile fans who are invited to board—and promise to fasten their “meat belts” before rolling—are treated to a rare peek inside the vehicle’s interior. Ketchup- and mustard-colored upholstery surround the six seats, with condiment "stains" dotting the floor; for parades, occupants can wave from the “bunroof.” Two accent hot dogs are parked on the dashboard.

7. The Wienermobile once crashed into a house.

Though it can be challenging to pilot an enormous hot dog, most Wienermobiles log mileage without incident. A rare exception: a 2009 accident near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when a driver attempted to back the vehicle out of a residential driveway, thought she was in reverse, but shot forward and bored into an unoccupied home.

8. Al Unser Jr. drove the Wienermobile for laps at the Indy 500.

While one might expect the Wienermobile to have the handling of a tube-shaped camper, some models were surprisingly nimble. Race car driver Al Unser Jr. took to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1988 and drove it for laps. The dog reached an impressive 110 miles per hour.

9. There's a version of the Wienermobile called a "Wienie-Bago."

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile WIENIE-BAGO
Oscar Mayer

Super Bowl attendees who couldn’t snag a hotel room in San Francisco for the 2016 showdown between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos had a pork-based solution: Oscar Mayer auctioned off two nights in their Wienie-Bago, an RV that sleeps four. Missed it? If you're in Chicago, you can rent a Wienermobile that sleeps two for $136 a night. A bed, outdoor dining area, and a fridge stocked with hot dogs are all included.

10. You can buy a miniature Wienermobile.

For the 2015 gift-giving season, Oscar Mayer issued a limited-edition, remote-controlled version of the Wienermobile. The 22.5-inch-long mini-dog sent collectors scrambling on Cyber Monday, when the company released just 20 for purchase at a time. The Rover is able to hold two hot dogs for transport across picnic tables. You can still find them on eBay.

Autumnal Dessert Spices and Cubed Meat Collide: Pumpkin Spice SPAM Now Exists

David McNew/Getty Images
David McNew/Getty Images

Does sipping on a pumpkin spice latte ever make you think: “Man, I wish this were cubed meat”? Soon, it will be. According to NBC News, Hormel will start selling Pumpkin Spice SPAM on September 23.

It all started back in October of 2017, when Hormel announced via its Facebook page that pumpkin spice SPAM was coming—as a joke. The post clearly stated that it wasn’t real, but that didn’t stop scores of people from making comments about how it would probably taste delicious and asking where they could purchase a can.

Now, a Hormel publicist has confirmed to NBC News that the limited-edition, fall-themed flavor will soon be available to order online from Walmart or Spam.com.

"True to the brand’s roots, SPAM Pumpkin Spice combines deliciousness with creativity, allowing the latest variety to be incorporated into a number of dishes, from on-trend brunch recipes to an easy, pick-me-up snack,” Hormel told NBC News.

While Pumpkin Spice SPAM might not yet be accepted into pumpkin spice canon alongside lattes and muffins, it’s far from the strangest product that has been imbued with the mysterious, cinnamon-y spice blend to date; we’ll leave automotive exhaust spray and light bulbs to duke it out for that designation. And the Facebook commenters might have actually been onto something when they dared to suggest that Pumpkin Spice SPAM had palatal potential. After all, ham recipes often include sweet ingredients like maple syrup, brown sugar, and honey. And, according to TIME, the word spam was invented as a portmanteau of spiced ham.

Wondering what other SPAM innovations you might be missing out on? Check out these recipes from around the world.

[h/t NBC News]

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