From the Back Cover
On 13 February 1806 the brig 'Favorite' Left Boston harbour bound for the Caribbean island of Martinique, with a cargo that a few imagined would survive the month-long sea voyage. Packed in hay in the hold were large chunks of ice harvested from a frozen Massachusetts lake. This was the first venture of a young Boston Merchant, Frederic Tudor, who imagined he could make a fortune selling ice to tropical countries.
Ridiculed from the outset by fellow merchants, Tudor endured years of hardship before he was to fulfil his youthful dream. Over thirty years he and his rivals extended the 'frozen water trade' to Cuba, Charleston, New Orleans, New York and London and finally – to the astonishment and delight of the British Raj – to Calcutta, when in 1833 more than a hundred tons of ice survived a four-month voyage of 16,00 miles with two crossings of the Equator. For the next fifty years Calcutta, Bombay and Madras eagerly awaited their regular supplies of New England ice.
Tudor not only made a fortune; he founded a huge industry which each winter employed thousands of men and horses to harvest millions of tons of ice. Thanks to his astonishing enterprise, iced drinks, chilled beer and home- made ice Cream became an essential part of the American way of life, and cooled the brows of colonial communities throughout the world long before artificial refrigeration became available – after which the frozen water trade melted away, leaving little to show that it had ever existed.
In this fascinating book Gavin Weightman reveals the forgotten story of America's vast natural ice trade, which revolutionised domestic life for millions of people.