Ice Cream Day 2022: The Intriguing History Of Ice Cream Soda
Image Credit: Shutterstock, Ice Cream Soda

Many of us have nostalgia attached to drinking lime ice soda at Nirula’s, but the history of this concoction is more elusive. Robert McCay Green is credited with the invention of ice cream soda, but two versions of the story exist. The first story goes that Green served sweet cream sodas to customers at an exhibition in Philadelphia in 1874. His stand was very popular and he ran out of sweet cream, being unable to buy more on short notice. He found ice cream, though, and thought it could work as a substitute once it melted. But customers impatiently waited for their sodas, and Green had to make do with scoops of ice cream. By the end of the exhibition, he was making $400 a day.

The second story says that Green was trying to come up with a way to attract customers away from another larger, fancier soda fountain down at the exhibition. The idea to make ice cream soda struck him when he observed people enjoying ice cream with a glass of water at a local confectionery. Green came up with 16 soda combinations that he’d serve with vanilla ice cream. Word of mouth popularised his stand and ice cream soda became a phenomenon. 

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Others like Fred Sanders claimed to have invented ice cream soda too. However, Sanders didn’t open a store until 1875, Green remains the first person to have discovered it. Green's will even said that his tombstone must be engraved with ‘Originator of the Ice Cream Soda’.

Today, diners and other restaurants with a retro feel specialise in ice cream sodas or ice cream floats. Coke float (scoops of vanilla ice cream in Coca Cola) being the most popular, other flavours have sprung up too. Whether you call them a soda or a float, these refreshing drinks remain a part of many memories.