Fun Facts about the History of 3 of our Favorite Desserts
Filed under: Culinary
October 11, 2018
We all enjoy a sweet treat on occasion, but how much do we know about the origin of the types of desserts we eat? To celebrate some of our favorite desserts, today we take a look at where they were first created and how they’ve evolved over the years into the food we love.
Think this delicate and delicious meringue-based dessert is a modern creation? Think again.
The first macarons dates back to 8th century Venetian monasteries, where the cookies were made as single round cookies with a crunchy outside and soft inside. (Their shape and origin even earned them the less-than-appetizing name “priest’s bellybuttons.”)
In the 1500s, macarons made their way to France, where they began rising in popularity after being served at the wedding of French queen, Catherine de’ Medici.
In 1792, macarons became even more popular when two nuns, nicknamed the Macaron Sisters, earned money to survive during the French Revolution by baking and selling these cookies. By the late 1800s, confectioners in France began creating fillings and selling the macaron cookie sandwiches that we know and crave today!
While many ancient civilizations enjoyed flavored ice, the Chinese are believed to be the first to make a frozen dairy product, with descriptions of such a product existing as early as the 7th century. However, dairy ice cream may not have arrived in Europe until the 1600s, when it showed up in Italy and quickly became a favorite among royal families across the continent. In the mid 1700s, ice cream began appearing on the tables of wealthy Americans who had the means to build ice houses and were willing to pay for the price of sugar.
In time, ice cream became both more affordable and available for public purchase around the world. In America, ice cream sodas and sundaes started selling fast in the 1890s. By the 1950s, as in-home refrigeration became less expensive, ice cream flavor options had exploded. As for today, ice cream is still a crowd-pleaser in the US, eaten by a whopping 96% of Americans.
New York-style. Chocolate, strawberry swirl, caramel. Cheesecake bites. Surely, everyone has a favorite style of cheesecake. But did you know that cheesecake likely came from Greece and might have even been served during the first Olympic games in 776 BC? Greek couples also used it as a wedding cake. Those early cheesecake were made from flour, wheat, honey, and cheese mixed into a cake and baked.
Eventually, the Romans conquered Greece and put their own spin on the cheesecake, adding eggs and sometimes putting the cheese filling into a pastry. As the Roman empire grew, cheesecake headed to Europe, where each region changed the recipe slightly using common local ingredients. By the 1700s, cheesecake had evolved into something like what we know today, and that recipe travelled across the ocean with the colonists to America.
After the invention of cream cheese in 1872 in New York, the New York style cheesecake become popular in 1900s. Other America variations include Chicago and Philadelphia styles, and of course we experiment with all types of flavors and crusts. Outside of the US, many countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America also have their own takes on the cheesecake—incorporating diverse types of cheeses and other ingredients that include cottage cheese, ricotta, honey, maize flower, gelatin, and candied fruit.
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