ice cream
From inventing the first ice cream machine to the first ice cream cone, women were behind some of the biggest changes in the ways ice creams were conceived and manufactured. Image Credit: Unsplash/Brooke Lark

A revolutionary ice cream machine. Molecular gastronomy in the late 1800s. The very first ice cream cone. Purely vegetarian ice creams. When it comes to one of the world’s most popular desserts – ice cream – we have a handful of women to thank.

Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can spot ‘praline’ and other ice cream flavours.

Here are some women that revolutionised ice cream making, according to a June 2022 report by the US-based Smithsonian Institution:

1. Nancy M. Johnson

It was 1843 – a time in the US, when women gave up their legal rights when they married, and couldn’t control their own finances, own property or sign legal agreements. In this context, it makes what Johnson did, even more remarkable. She filed a patent (in her own name) for an ‘artificial freezer’ or ice cream maker. Her invention comprised a pail with a lid, within which, was a metal container that was also fitted with a lid. In the space between the two containers, people could pack ice and salt. Perforated S-shaped paddles in the container efficiently scraped the sides and blended the ingredients – a process that required one to use a hand crank, located outside the pail. Johnson’s artificial freezer was the first patent filed in the US for an appliance to make ice cream. Before this point, cooks usually placed ice cream ingredients in a metal pot, which they buried in a bucket of crushed ice – it took hours and was labour-intensive, with inconsistent result. Johnson’s method cut down the time spent on making ice cream. She successfully commercialised her invention and sold her patent to another inventor, kickstarting a revolution in the mass production of ice cream.

2. Agnes Bertha Marshall

Marshall studied with chefs in Paris and Vienna, and in 1883, took over a fledgling culinary school in London with her husband, which she transformed. Marshall wrote cookbooks, taught at the school, grew the business to include a shop where they sold not just food prepared by students, but kitchen and pantry equipment as well, and gave cooking demonstrations to crowds of hundreds. Soon dubbed as the ‘queen of ices’, Marshall showed her skill with ice cream when she published two cookbooks just on ‘ices’. She was issues patents (under her husband’s name) for an ice cream maker that she created, which was shallow and broad instead of the usual tall and narrow shape – cutting down the preparation process to just a few minutes. She also invented an ‘ice cave’, which resembled a modern-day cooler. Amazingly, Marshall also had an understanding of molecular gastronomy. In a 1901 issue of her magazine, The Table, she suggested using liquid nitrogen to create a memorable dessert experience. Marshall is also best known as the inventor of the ice cream cone.

3. Almeda Lambert

Lambert’s invention of dairy-free ice cream came as a relief to vegan and lactose-intolerant ice cream eaters. Lambert’s husband was an employee at a 19th century health retreat overseen by Dr John Harvey Kellogg, whose philosophy of good health involved regular exercise, a vegetarian diet and abstinence from tobacco and other vices. Primarily because of this connection, both Lambert and her husband became big proponents of nut-based foods. In 1899, Lambert published the Guide for Nut Cookery, which comprised the first published recipes for vegetarian ice creams that substituted cow’s milk and cream with nut milks and butters.

What do you think of the impact these women had on the history of ice cream? Play today’s Word Search and tell us at