Ice cream bars taste good in the winter too

CJ Coombs

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Christian Kent Nelson was a co-founder of the Eskimo Pie in 1922Source.

I can eat chocolate-covered ice cream bars in the summer and even in the winter as well.

Nearly 100 years ago this month, Christian K. Nelson patented the Eskimo Pie ice cream bar.

Nelson's family emigrated to Iowa from Denmark in 1893 when he was a baby. When he grew up, he taught Latin in a high school in Onawa, Iowa. He operated an ice cream store when school was out in the summer.

There is an interesting story that's been passed down through the decades that allegedly inspired Nelson to make the Eskimo Pie in 1920. A boy came to his store and was indecisive on whether he should buy ice cream or a chocolate bar and he didn't have enough money to buy both.

Nelson spent months trying to come up with a formula of cocoa butter and chocolate that would stick to vanilla ice cream. When he succeeded, he originally sold the frozen bars as I-Scream Bars.

He filed what would become referred to several years later as too broad of a patent in 1921 and entered into an agreement with the famous chocolate maker, Russell C. Stover. Stover produced the bars under a new name which was trademarked as the Eskimo Pie. Nelson then franchised this product so other manufacturers of ice cream could produce it.

Because Nelson's formula for creating the ice cream bar wasn't detailed enough in his patent, other unlicensed retailers began to create something similar. Nelson and Stover spent a lot of money in court trying to protect their patent, but in 1923, "rival producers convinced the courts to rescind Eskimo Pie's patent."

Stover sold his interest in the business and relocated to create Russell Stover Candies, Inc. which found its home in Kansas City, Missouri in 1932. Nelson sold his company in 1924 to R.S. Reynolds's U.S. Foil Co. (later renamed Reynolds Metals Co. which would remain the parent company of Eskimo Pie until 1992). Noteworthy the Eskimo Pie was packaged in foil.

Nelson became wealthy from the royalties selling millions of the Eskimo Pies which eventually became rebranded in 2020 due to a rippling effect of the need to change racial images on products. Eskimo Pies became Edy's Pies.

In the 1920s when the Eskimo Pies were created, the image on the package and the name were meant to indicate the ice cream bars were as cold as the north which was also where indigenous people lived. While it may not have been considered derogatory at that time, it was considered to be later.

Eskimo Pie has decided on a new name three months after it acknowledged its original name was offensive toward native arctic communities. (Source.)

Nelson continued to work at Eskimo Pie throughout the years it remained a subsidiary of Reynolds Metals Co. He passed away at the age of 98 on March 8, 1992, just three days before his 99th birthday. Nelson is buried at El Toro Memorial Park in Lake Forest, Orange County, California alongside his wife, Myrtle, who passed away five months earlier. They had no children.

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30 years of legal secretarial experience, and a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, my life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO
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