Episode 8: The Thousand Dollar Dinner

Parkinson's Ice Cream Shop, courtesy of the  Historical Society of Philadelphia

Parkinson's Ice Cream Shop, courtesy of the Historical Society of Philadelphia

Dog days of summer getting you down? Why not treat yourself to a story about one of the first families of ice cream in 19th century Philadelphia? Learn how a modest ice cream shop went head to head with New York’s famous Delmonico’s to become one of the finest restaurants in America. A special feature from The Feast this week, in collaboration with Becky Diamond, author of “The Thousand Dollar Dinner”, we’ll cool you down with some scandalous vanilla ice cream and take you behind the scenes of one of America’s first great cookery challenges.

Written & Produced by Laura Carlson

Technical Director: Mike Portt

Special thanks to Becky Diamond, author of The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge. Available in paperback September, 2016.



Some 19th century ice cream & ice recipes featured in The Thousand Dollar Dinner from Eleanor Parkinson's The Complete Confectioner (1844)

Find all of Eleanor's famous treats via the scanned version of her book here.

Vanilla Ice Cream

One quart of cream, half an ounce of vanilla, twelve ounces of sugar; cut the vanilla into small pieces, and pound it with the sugar until it is quite fine and add it to the cream and eggs. Make it into a custard, strain, and when cold freeze, or it may be flavoured with the essence of vanilla.

Orange Water Ice

One pint of China orange juice (juice of a common orange), one pint of (sugar) syrup, half a pint of water, the juice of four large lemons. Rub off the yellow rind of six oranges and two lemons on sugar, scrape it off and mix with the strained juice, syrup, and water. 

Need more Hot Corn in your life? Read all about the dangers of New York's street food scene in the mid-19th century with these short stories by Solon Robinson. Just watch out for that passion-inducing vanilla ice cream! 

Available here via Project Gutenberg

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream! Or, maybe we should just sing about it?

Check out this recent episode from NPR's All Songs Considered podcast, where they spend an hour on their favorite songs about the great summertime treat. They even make some ice cream in the studio with some help from NPR's food section, The Salt. Check out all the songs they feature in the episode here.

Need more on the scandalous history of vanilla?

Check out the wild and wooly tale of vanilla, still one of the most expensive flavors in the world with this classic by Patricia Rain, Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World's Favorite Flavor and Fragrance




National Geographic's The Plate also did a great article on the history of not-so-plain vanilla back in 2014. Read all about it here. 

And cool down with some great books on the history of ice cream...

Anne Cooper Funderburg, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream

A great look at Americans' special relationship with that delicious cold treat. Fantastic mention of the Parkinsons' impact in Philadelphia.

Jeri Quinzio, Of Sugar & Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making

A longer look at ice cream (and other cool treats) throughout history. Great for the heat of summer!