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Looking for information on \"Sno Ball\" desserts
#1
I was cruising the Internet today and came across this quote on Wikipedia that peaked my interest.

"The first documented "shaved ice" dessert was made in 27 B.C.E. The Roman Emperor Nero sent slaves to collect snow from nearby mountains that he then flavored with a fruit and honey mixture" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaved_ice

This source is sighted with a modern source: Bell, Robert “The History of the Sno Cone.” Article Alley. 22 April 2009, and I have not had any luck finding the a historical source for this information.

I was wondering if anyone knew what the original source was and could point me in the right direction?

Thank you
Marcus Octavius Rufus
aka Josh McCallum
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#2
The 27BC date should be enough to raise suspicions! Actually this anecdote appears all over the internet (try googling Nero and Snow), but all in 'amazing! did you know?' type contexts, and nowhere (of course) giving a reference!

I thought that Suetonius might be the source, but he only mentions Nero's fondness for iced water. Pliny (Natural History 31.40) says that Nero boiled water and then chilled it by packing jars of it in snow - this was to use as a mixer. Perhaps this is the origin of the 'ice cream' idea?

Dalby's Empire of Pleasures is a good source on luxury dining habits, but he has nothing to say about eating flavoured snow - only that Apicius recommends chilling oysters in snow, and Martial liked to dilute his falernian wine with icy snow-water. Actually using snow to cool food and drink seems to have been fairly common, although rather high-class due to the cost of transporting the stuff specially.

Some deeper googling, however, reveals even older (though no less reputable) sources attributing the invention of 'ice cream' to Q Fabius Maximus Gurges, consul of 292BC. Daily Engineering of 1953, for example, claims that "the Roman general, Quintus Maximus Gurges... during his retirement in 290 BC, amused himself by inventing new dishes", one of which involved mixing snow with "milk, honey, eggs, fruit, and nuts."

Of course, no references again! It could be that whoever came up with this story just plucked a suitable Roman name out of thin air, but the attribution is so odd that it might just derive from something genuine. Can anybody else get to the bottom of this? :-)
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#3
I don't claim to be a historian, but I don't believe Nero was an Emperor in 27BC. :-?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero
says he was born in AD37, but we can't always trust WikiP, can we? :roll:
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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