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When the Iceman Came

Via GeekPress: The Straight Dope on the ice business.

[T]hey cut ice up north in winter and packed it away for sale in the summer. You might guess that ice harvesting, as it was called, was an ancient trade. Not really. While stories of hauling snow down from the mountains for summer cooling date back to Roman times, the widespread practice of chilling food to preserve it, and thus the need for a reliable source of cold, is less than two centuries old. The man credited with creating the ice business and ushering in the era of fresh foods is Frederic Tudor, described by his biographer Gavin Weightman (The Frozen-Water Trade, 2003) as “a diminutive, pig-headed Bostonian.” Tudor was one of your classic when-life-hands-you-lemons-make-lemonade kind of guys. While his fellow New Englanders waited out the long winters huddled around the stove, Tudor beheld the frozen landscape and thought: There’s money in that ice.

Memories of the ice business linger in Boston in the form of abandoned ice houses and built-in ice boxes, but I still wouldn’t have guessed that it all started here.