Food blog

The Sweet Symphony: Unveiling the Origins of Ice Cream Floats

The fascinating story of how ice cream floats were invented

Ice cream floats have become a popular treat for people of all ages. The delightful combination of creamy ice cream and sparkling soda creates a tantalizing experience for the taste buds. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this delicious concoction? Let’s dive into the fascinating story of how ice cream floats were invented.

The birth of cream soda

The journey of the ice cream float begins with cream soda. In the 1800s, soda fountains across the United States served a beverage called cream soda. These soda fountains were staffed by skilled individuals known as soda jerks. Contrary to what the name might suggest, soda jerks were named for the jerking motion they used to tap the carbonated water, not because of any personality quirks.
Cream soda was made by adding cream and a flavored syrup to carbonated water. It quickly gained popularity and became a favorite among soda fountain patrons. But cream soda was about to undergo a transformation that would forever change the world of frozen treats.

A stroke of genius

Credit for inventing the ice cream float is often given to Robert Green, an enterprising Philadelphia entrepreneur. The story goes that during the semi-centennial celebration of the Franklin Institute, Green ran out of ingredients to make cream sodas in his soda fountain. Faced with this predicament, he improvised by adding a scoop of ice cream to the carbonated water.
In an interview published in Soda Fountain Magazine in 1910, Green revealed that his creation was not born out of necessity, but rather out of ingenuity. He wanted to lure customers away from a competitor with a more elaborate soda fountain. He came up with the idea of combining sparkling water, sweet flavored syrup, and ice cream. Green’s innovation was an instant hit, delighting his customers with a selection of 16 different flavors.

The rise of the ice cream float

Once the ice cream float was introduced, its popularity skyrocketed. People were captivated by the delicious combination of creamy ice cream and sparkling soda. It wasn’t long before variations of the float appeared, each with its own unique twist.
One of the most iconic versions of the ice cream float is the root beer float. This delicious treat was created in 1893 by Frank Wisner, an employee of the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company. Wisner was inspired by the sight of snow-capped mountains, which he compared to scoops of ice cream. The next morning, he combined his craving for ice cream with root beer, creating the root beer float we know and love today.
Another popular variation is the Boston Cooler, which originated in Detroit. This delightful creation combines vanilla ice cream with Vernors, a ginger brew with a distinctive tingle. The Boston Cooler quickly became a favorite among Midwesterners who considered Vernors more than just a soda – it was medicine for the soul.

Unleash your creativity

The beauty of ice cream floats is their versatility. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your own unique float. You can experiment with different soda flavors and ice cream combinations to find your perfect match.
Imagine the refreshing taste of orange soda paired with creamy vanilla ice cream, reminiscent of a deconstructed Orange Julius. Or indulge in a Purple Cow or Pink Cow made with grape soda or strawberry soda, respectively, blended with luscious vanilla ice cream. The sky’s the limit when it comes to this fun and delicious treat.
The next time you’re looking for a delicious treat, treat yourself to an ice cream float. Remember the history behind this beloved creation and enjoy the sweet nostalgia of a bygone era. Whether you opt for a classic root beer float or let your imagination run wild with unique flavor combinations, the joy of an ice cream float is sure to transport you to a place of pure bliss.
So gather up your favorite ice cream and soda and embark on a delightful journey through the world of ice cream floats. Unleash your creativity and who knows, you might just stumble upon the next iconic float flavor that will capture the hearts and taste buds of people around the world.


What is an ice float?

An ice cream float is a delicious dessert treat that combines ice cream and soda. It features the creamy texture of ice cream mixed with the fizzy goodness of carbonated soda, creating a unique and satisfying taste experience.

Who invented the snow cone?

While there are different accounts of its invention, credit for popularizing the ice cream float is often given to Robert Green, a Philadelphia entrepreneur. He improvised by adding ice cream to carbonated water when he ran out of ingredients for his cream sodas at a soda fountain.

What was the original flavor combination for ice cream floats?

The original flavor combination for ice cream floats was the result of combining carbonated water, sweet flavored syrup and ice cream. Robert Green, the inventor of the ice cream float, offered his customers a choice of 16 different flavors.

When did the ice cream float become popular?

Ice cream floats became popular soon after they were invented. People were drawn to the delicious combination of creamy ice cream and sparkling soda. The root beer float in particular became very popular after it was created by Frank Wisner in 1893.

Are there variations of ice floats?

Yes, there are many variations of ice cream floats. One of the most popular is the root beer float, but other flavors such as orange soda, grape soda and strawberry soda have been paired with ice cream to create unique float experiences. The possibilities for flavor combinations are virtually endless.

Can I create my own float flavors?

Of course you can! One of the joys of ice cream floats is the ability to get creative with flavor combinations. Experiment with different soda flavors and ice cream flavors to create your own signature float. Let your imagination run wild and enjoy the process of creating a personalized ice cream float masterpiece.

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