Native American Ice Cream Mold


This figure of a Native American is one of 14 pewter ice cream molds donated to the Museum in 1972 by the wholesale distribution company Foremost-McKesson, Inc., of San Francisco, California. Other forms include a lion, a butterfly, an elephant, and patriotic symbols such as an eagle, Uncle Sam, the Liberty Bell, and George Washington in profile.

Molded ice cream was a popular treat in the United States from the 1870s to 1950s, with a boom in ice cream consumption driving increases in mold manufacturing between 1921 and 1925. The Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 until it was repealed in 1933, sparked an increase in consumer demand for such things as soft drinks, ice cream, and confections. Indeed, ice cream consumption increased by over 100 million gallons between 1921 and 1929.

Unlike the majority of the molds in the collection, which were manufactured by Eppelsheimer & Co. of New York, this cast was created by an unidentified manufacturer. These hinged molds, dating from the 1920s and 30s, while still functional, can no longer be used due to the lead content in the pewter.

The exterior of the mold is stamped with a product catalogue number, “458” and an 1896 date stamp. While the mold’s exterior is otherwise nondescript, its interior, where the ice cream was poured and frozen, is intricately detailed with stereotypical characteristics: feathers, hatchet, and braids. Once frozen, ice cream makers could embellish their confections by painting on a layer of food coloring. These individual molded ice creams would then be served for special occasions or holiday meals, such as Thanksgiving. As American holidays became more commercialized in the early twentieth century, the demand for variety in ice cream molds increased, as is apparent in the collection. However, technological advancements in ice cream manufacturing, the development of ice cream novelties such as the Eskimo Pie and the Popsicle, and the advent of packaged ice creams available in groceries, transformed ice cream in the eye of the American public from a seasonal or specialty dish into an everyday treat. As such, molded ice creams fell out of fashion by the 1950s.

Maker: Eppelsheimer & Co.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

See more items in: Work and Industry: Food Technology, Food, Industry & Manufacturing


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Foremost-McKesson, Inc.

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: AG.72A1.1Catalog Number: 72A1.1Accession Number: 298969

Object Name: ice cream mold, Indian

Physical Description: pewter (overall material)


Record Id: nmah_1356640

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