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Ice Equipment Sales & Leasing | Phone: (800) 999-5616

Icesurance Blog - Ice Equipment Sales & Leasing | Phone: (800) 999-5616

The Ironic History of the Classic Cube

I was thinking the other day, (not as rare an occurrence as some might suggest) about the history of the classic cube and how it has come nearly full circle.  For untold millennia, all ice was created in the natural environment, and human endeavors to leverage its cooling properties were fundamentally unchanged for thousands of years.

Ice from a pond 1950'sThe basics were pretty simple: find some ice in a frozen lake, pond or river.  Harvest it, and store it in as cool and insulated a place as could be found or created.

While the manner of harvesting, transporting, and storing may have improved over the centuries, the end results were the same. A labor intensive process provided a quickly vanishing resource.  Now, sometime around 1850, A Dr. John Gorrie needing ice for treatment of malaria patients in Florida, invented the first mechanical ice making machine.

Over the next 60 years, the development of commercial ice making equipment and artificial refrigeration led to the proliferation of commercial ice plants where ice was made and sold in 300 lb. blocks.

Shortly thereafter, machines were invented that cut these 300 lb. blocks into 1.25” square ice cubes which were sold primarily to restaurants and bars, not because of their shape, but because there were no commercial food service ice machines available until the 1950’s, with mass conversion from the ice man to on premise ice making happening in the 1960’s.

The commercial ice machine evolved over the next few decades, but the needs of the QSR & C-Store segments consumed much of the R&D.  The unfortunate byproduct of these drivers was complete devaluation of any aesthetic principles.

Shape became irrelevant and size was sacrificed for displacement.  Yet through all the machinations and explosion of rhomboids, pillows, and crescents, Kold-Draft kept limping along, making the machines that made the same classic cube that they introduced in 1955, the 1.25” square ice cube.  Same size and same shape as the iceman’s cube.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s, a new cocktail revolution created by mixologists grabs the attention of the drinking class.  Ice becomes an ingredient again, and Kold-Draft’s sales start to climb, and keep climbing.

The ice sensation even eclipses the classic cube as hand carved spheres and 2” squares find their way into your Old Fashion.  Some of these larger chunks are chipped out of a big 300 lb. block, delivered to the bar from a new breed of icemen.  I’m guessing it won’t be long before pond made ice is the rage.  Again.

Icesurance is your source for all your classic cube ice needs.  Except pond ice.

  • Bob Micholuk says:

    The point you made about pond made ice could be a new business model with huge potential. Organic ice… need for walk in coolers, freezers or even ice machines.

    November 3, 2016 at 3:05 pm

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