Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Want some ice in that lemonade?

June 1, 2014

Polar Bear Ice Tray | UncommonGoodsNothing beats the heat of a BBQ better than a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade. But did it ever occur to you that you should maybe thank a very special Bostonian for that chilly, chilly goodness? Up until the early 1800s, ice was mostly just a hazard of winter. However, to wealthy Boston brothers Frederic and William Tudor, it was a luxury they could afford. After joking about how their chilled beverages would be the envy of the colonists in the West Indies, Frederic decided to test out that theory and ship the ice to the French island of Martinique. No ship in Boston would agree to ship the precarious cargo, and so after buying their own boat, they set sail with 80 tons of ice on board. The ice arrived in perfect condition, but the islanders were rightly suspicious of the giant blocks of ice they were being told to buy and consume, and so their trip was a failure.

William dropped out of the business but Frederic persisted, landing himself in debtor’s prison three times. Eventually, he started using the age-old “first one’s free” tactic while living in South Carolina. He offered chilled beverages to sweltering Southerners, taught restaurant owners how to make ice cream, and even offered it to doctors in need of a numbing agent. The crowds were convinced and Frederic started an ice harvesting assembly line using frigid river waters. Competing ice distributers began popping up, the need for iceboxes became apparent, and now we can enjoy treats directly from the freezer. So the next time you crack a cold one, pour one out for the original Ice Man.

Polar Bear Ice Tray, $20

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