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Consider chilled treat as weather begins to cool [Eagle Archives]

Much of the discussion about the 250th anniversary of the City of Westminster has emphasized the early establishment of the retail stores, restaurants and hotels in town that provided goods and services for the steady stream of settlers who were traveling west.

However, such a discussion of the history of Westminster's inns and restaurants begs an obvious question — 'What did those tired, and hungry, visitors eat?

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Back in the days before the Golden Arches would beckon, what food was served to the travelers who stopped in Westminster's restaurants?

Unfortunately, with the exception of the work by local food writer Carrie Ann Knauer and a study of agricultural crops and foodstuffs by historians Carol Lee or Nancy Warner, there is little information to answer those questions. Much more research is needed on the history of prepared food in Carroll County.

One of the earliest references to prepared food in Carroll County was by J. W. Hering, who wrote about ice cream in 1851, in his historical memoir, "Recollections of My Life, Vols. I and II."

Long before such renowned ice cream emporiums as Hoffman's (1947) and Baugher's (1948) opened in Carroll County, Hering wrote, "Ice cream was hardly known to the people of Westminster in 1851. Mary Behoe, an old colored woman kept a little in her cake shop near the forks. Later places were opened by Jonathan Creager in the basement of Carroll Hall and Mrs. James Keefer had a place on Main Street, later. The quality was poor. The quantity small, and the price was amazingly large. No milk was sold on the streets at that time or for many years thereafter. Several years afterwards John Englar, a farmer, entered upon the business, running a wagon and supplying customers as at present."

That same year, a Baltimore dairyman by the name of Jacob Fussell was opening an ice cream factory to use his excess milk and cream.

Nationally, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to have served ice cream. Numerous accounts contend that around 1832, Augustus Jackson, an African-American White House chef "invented an improved method of manufacturing ice cream."

Dolley Madison, the wife of the fourth president of the United States, served ice cream in the White House in 1812. An article, "Ice Cream: An American Favorite since the Founding Fathers," by National Public Radio by Molly Yun, a researcher for food historian Chef Walter Staib's program "A Taste of History," reveals, "Dolley preferred oyster ice cream. She used small, sweet oysters from the Potomac River near her home to churn up an interesting dessert.

"In 18th century cookbooks, chefs didn't stick to the basics. Recipes for Parmesan ice cream, asparagus ice cream, chestnut cream and many other flavors … were popular."

In Carroll County, according to Lee's "Legacy of the Land," James Workman Beacham, Jr. and Nellie Slingluff started an ice cream factory in 1888 in Avondale, a year after they married and began having seven children. Historians and culinary anthropologists are moot as to whether or not there is a connection between ice cream and having seven children.

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