Eskimo Pie, the world’s first chocolate covered ice cream bar was patented on this day in 1922. It was invented by Christian Nelson, a village school teacher, in the United States. Nelson owned a confectionery near the school where he worked. In 1920 a child came to Nelson asking for an ice cream sandwich. But he appeared indecisive and ended up buying a chocolate bar. When Nelson asked him why he didn’t buy both, the boy replied that though he wanted both, he had money only for one.
This incident inspired him to create the Eskimo Pie, which, for the first time, incorporated both the ice cream and the chocolate.
Nelson first tried freezing a coating of chocolate around a slice of ice cream but the chocolate did not stick to the ice cream as he expected.
After much trial and error, he discovered the right mix of chocolate and cocoa butter that would adhere to the ice cream. This was the first innovation in ice cream since the ice cream cone was invented in 1903. Nelson also developed an insulated jug for selling Eskimo Pies so as to keep them from melting while being sold by street vendors and at newsstands.
Nelson called his invention ‘IScream- Bar’ but when he entered into a production agreement with chocolate maker Russell Stover, the name was changed to Eskimo Pie.
The first 2,50,000 pies produced were sold within 24 hours and it became a national sensation overnight.
Soon millions of people fell in love with it. Nelson began earning $2,000 per day in royalties for his product. At the height of its popularity the Eskimo Pie sold one million daily. The influence of the Eskimo Pie went farther than that.
So strong was its demand that it helped lift the countries producing cocoa and chocolate out of an economic depression.
On January 24, 1922, Nelson was awarded a patent for his invention.
Nelson’s patent applied to any type of frozen material covered with candy. He also had the name Eskimo Pie trademarked. Initially even the word ‘Pie’ was covered by his trademark. This wide coverage proved to be detrimental to the Eskimo Pie as the legal cost of defending the trademark default cases were becoming huge.
In 1924, Nelson sold the Eskimo Pie Corporation which became a subsidiary of the Reynolds Foil Company but he remained the principal stockholder. Even now, the brand name Eskimo Pie continues to have strong consumer recognition in the west.