July 21, 2019

Ice Cream in Early Prescott

Prescott's first ice cream ad.
It took 10 years after Prescott’s founding before ice cream appeared at a social function and then it was an exotic luxury.

In March, 1874, the boys at Ft. Whipple wanted to make their grand concert an extra-special event. Although it’s unclear exactly how, they managed to procure enough ice cream to serve the entire crowd. “Such refreshing luxuries as ice cream and cakes of various kinds” made the concert the most memorable social event that year.

Even for the scant few who might have brought an ice cream churn with them into the wilderness, both the cream and the ice were prohibitively expensive.

It would be 15 more months before the treat was available to purchase. In mid-July, 1875, Tom Whitehead’s Antelope Restaurant ran an advertisement describing his ice cream as “sweeter and richer than honied kisses every evening…Take your gal ‘round and buy her some ice cream,” the ad exclaimed. 

The Antelope enjoyed an ice cream monopoly for 3 years, and charged a hefty price. The frozen dessert was the same price as the entire main meal, doubling ones bill!

1878 saw two more ice cream merchants enter town. The Central Restaurant  began serving it in May, while the Lady Gay Bakery became the Lady Gay Bakery and Ice Cream Saloon.

One enterprising icehouse owner offered free use of an ice cream churn if the customer bought the ice and the ingredients to make it from him. This must have made for some very special birthdays and picnics.

The next year, ’79, a third restaurant, the Cabinet Chop House included the delightful dessert.

Tales of lonely-hearts searching for adventure, romance and matrimony in early Prescott, AZ.

Now that there were 4 manufacturers of ice cream, the price began to become more reasonable, and starting in 1880, several churches began having ice cream “sociables” to raise money. In August, the ME Church planned one, but a fire broke out downtown and everyone left the celebration to fight the blaze. Although Mattie Givens Dress Making Shop was a total loss, the ice cream survived and was served the the following evening. $100 was raised against “a disagreeable debt against the new parsonage.”

Two weeks later the Catholic Church held an “ice cream festival” to raise money. It included a dance and the Fort Whipple Band.

1881 brought two more ice cream vendors. The Pioneer Hotel & Restaurant started serving it, while “the boys of (the newspaper) office were treated today by Mr. Rogers, the ice man, to a few glasses of ice cream,” which was available for sale after he had “made his rounds.”

Then in March, ’86 Jules Baumann, known for his oyster parlor, began to stay open late to serve “oysters and ice cream” after community events. Oddly, this became wildly popular and Baumann, for a time, would be the largest ice cream vendor in town. The flavors he initially offered included vanilla, chocolate, peach and raspberry.

Baumann wanted to expand on his successful oyster and ice cream nights. So he collected the empty oyster shells; boiled them into a bisque, and used THAT to flavor his ice cream! “Baumann struck a rich pay streak in the ice cream business yesterday,” the Journal-Miner reported. “His new flavor, bisque, was very popular.” This, despite that it was introduced in January. 

Baumann was quickly becoming the ice cream baron of Prescott. By June he was advertising the desire to board two diary cows. He promised the best in feed and care.

Fantastic story of the finding (and losing) of a small, rich gold vein outside of Jerome Junction, (now Chino Valley) around 1905.

The next month he offered ice cream for take-out. He advertised: “Don't be afraid to eat Baumann’s ice cream, for our leading physicians not only endorse it, but also order it largely for their family tables.” Baumann’s business bloomed. By October he began renting the entire Prescott House hotel and brought his oysters and ice cream parlor as well as his fresh candy store into one building.

Long gone were the days of ice cream doubling ones restaurant bill. To solicit Sunday dinner customers to the Palace in 1888, an ice cream dessert was included free with the meal.

Finally in 1889, the first pharmacy to advertise ice cream was Coxe’s, where one could “try the celebrated Milk Shake…a most delicious drink”

The same day as Coxe’s announcement, the Baumann Ice Cream Parlor announced that it closing down. Their other business opportunities, now two hotels, were requiring too much time.

It was the Belleview Hotel that bought Baumann’s ice cream business, but three years later, Baumann partnered up with a Mr. Porter to open a new ice cream parlor. Bisque, however, was no longer on the menu...

A quarter century after Prescott’s founding, ice cream was no longer a rare luxury, but a highly popular staple available at many locations.


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Weekly Journal-Miner, 3/27/1874; Pg. 2, Col. 5.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/4/1875; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/7/1878; Pg. 2, Col. 6.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/14/1878; Pg. 4, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/16/1879; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 7/30/1880; Pg. 3, Col. 3.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 8/6/1880; Pg. 4, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 8/6/1880; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/10/1881; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/6/1881; Pg. 4, Col. 2.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 3/10/1886; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 8/4/1886; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 1/29/1887; Pg. 3 , Col. 2.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 6/29/1887; Pg. 2, Col. 5.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 10/19/1887; Pg. 3, Col. 4.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 5/23/1888; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 5/22/1889; Pg. 3, Col. 4.
IBID. Col. 6.
Weekly Journal-Miner, 7/3/1889; Pg. 3, Col. 6. 

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