History of Gelato & Sorbet

The stories surrounding the creation of gelatos and sorbets throughout history have been sparse and vague. However, one thing seems apparent: every story ends in Italy.

Gelato and sorbet can be traced as far back as 3000 B.C. It is believed that Asian cultures discovered the roots of sorbet in the form of crushed ice and flavoring. Five-hundred years later in Egypt , this same practice was emulated when Pharaohs offered visitors a cup of ice mixed with fruit juices. Early traces of Gelato can even been seen in the Bible, in which Isaac offered Abraham goat milk mixed with snow. As centuries passed, gelato and sorbet were rediscovered by Marco Polo. Historians believe that throughout his travels, Marco Polo adopted these same techniques used by many in the past and brought them back to Italy.

It was the Italians, known for their deep appreciation for fine cuisine, who took the principles of Marco Polo and transformed them into a tasteful and elegant product. In the 1500’s, many noble families used gelato and sorbet to cleanse their palates between courses. Gelato was also used as an after-dinner indulgence. By the early 1600’s, crushed ice mixed with fruit was sold in every public square in Italy , allowing the trend to spread throughout the country.

Eventually, gelatos and sorbets evolved and they became more popular throughout all socio-economic classes. The product continued to spread throughout Western Europe over the next hundred years. As Italians made their ways to America , so did gelato. It wasn’t until the late 1700’s when an Italian, Giovanni Basiolo, introduced gelato to the streets of New York.

As gelato evolved into what we know today as American ice cream, gelato seemed to get lost in the shuffle, disappearing for hundreds of years. Today, Frost, A Gelato Shoppe is writing a new chapter in history, as they bring the most authentic Italian gelato practices to the American market. Only the future will tell what will happen to the ever growing appreciation for fine authentic Italian Gelatos and Sorbets.