Ice cream is an immediate hit the first time it sells in King County on May 18, 1872.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 8/02/1999
  • Essay 1604
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On May 18, 1872, ice cream is sold for the first time in Seattle and King County. It is an immediate hit. Two Seattle "ice cream saloons" are established and the whole town seems to be consuming this "great delicacy."

It Requires Ice

Ice cream could not be produced before May 1872 because ice, an essential ingredient, was not available. Around May 13, 1872, the Puget Sound Ice Company, headed by Capt. Marshall Blinn, imported ice from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and began selling it in Seattle.

On May 18, 1872, Mr. L. Reinig, located on Mill Street, started making and selling ice cream in his shop along with a "bountiful supply" of soda water produced by the Levy Brothers in Seattle. Within a few days Thomas H. Stringham's Bakery (east side of Front Street between Mill and Cherry streets) established an ice cream saloon for ladies and gentlemen. The bakery also offered spruce & ginger beer, and soda water, with ice of course.

Seattleites enjoyed dancing parties and rollerskating parties on the Pavilion (southeast corner of Cherry and Front street). On these occasions, Stringham sold ice cream and other refreshments. On June 6, 1872, the Trinity Church Aid Society held a Strawberry and Ice Cream Festival at the Pavilion which was well attended and raised $100 for the church.

By the beginning of summer, the ice cream business was so good that Stringham constructed a 15-foot-wide addition to his building and established a "Ladies' Ice Cream Saloon." Reinig immediately remodeled a portion of his bakery into a  new saloon "where ladies and gentlemen can be entertained in fine style, and served with the richest Ice Cream and the freshest Strawberries and Cream to be found in Seattle" (The Weekly Intelligencer, June 17, 1872).

Without a doubt, there were many fond memories of Seattle's summer of 1872.


The Weekly Intelligencer, May 20, 1872, p. 3; Ibid., May 27, 1872, p. 3; Ibid., June 3, 1872, p. 3; Ibid., June 10, 1873, p. 3; Ibid., June 17, 1872, p. 3.

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