There is a rivalry between New York and Boston for neatly everything, including the claim for the “ice cream capital of America.” Boston claims that title based on their founding of Steve Herrell’s eponymous ice cream shop in Somerville (just north of the city) in 1973 — whose pioneering use of mix-ins gave rise to the Dairy Queens and the Cold Stone Creameries of today — and, as a 1993 book about the city noted, their largest per capita ice cream consumption (26 gallons per person per year). But New Yorkers counter their was the first ice cream shop ever in the United States.
On this day, May 12, in 1777, the confectioner Phillip Lenzi placed an advertisement for his Manhattan ice cream shop in the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.
Lenzi had just arrived from London with recipes for jams and jellies, along with various pastries, sugar plums, and of course the ultimate luxury – ice cream. Made long before the advent of refrigeration the ice creams were made with fine mixtures of cream, salt and sugar, which required no small amount of effort to create. Lenzi offered his catering services “for reasonable rates” and his products at “modest profit.” He stated in his ad, “May be had almost every day, Ice Cream.”