899 Main Street (1981 to present)

Since it’s summer and we’re talking about sweets (not to mention our tour is ending right at Toscanini’s), I thought it would be fitting to mention ice cream. And in some ways, candy and ice cream are connected.

Ice cream actually has a deep local history. Bostonian Frederic Tudor, known as the Ice King, helped to make ice cream the international cultural staple that it is today. He really revolutionized the way not only Americans, but people worldwide, eat and drink. From the 1830s to 1890s, the Tudor Ice Company harvested ice from Walden Pond, Fresh Pond here in Cambridge, and other lakes in New England and shipped it to the American south and the Caribbean, Europe, and India. As an ice sales technique, Tudor demonstrated home-style ice cream making all over the world. Ice cream and chilled beverages became summertime staples. Additionally, a dependable ice supply made it possible to deliver fresh meat, seafood and dairy products without them spoiling.

In Cambridge, ice cream was first served at high end restaurants and hotels. Once it became a commodity, ice cream was manufactured here by companies like White House Ice Cream and General Ice Cream Company. In Charlestown there was Hood Creamery. Cambridge even had ice cream cone manufacturers.

Once the mechanical ice cream maker and the soda fountain machine were invented, ice cream parlors like Boston’s Bailey’s which opened in 1876 became community meeting places. Ever since, the Boston area has been blessed with independent ice cream makers.

Steve Herrell in Somerville was the first person to make the wonderful pairing of ice cream and candy. In the late 1960s, Herrell was first introduced to the Heath Bar. He fell in love with the flavor and thought it would make an excellent addition to ice cream. When he opened his Steve’s Ice cream shop in 1973, instead of having premade flavors, Steve had his staff mix freshly made ice cream with candy or other confections based on customer requests. He called the toppings smoosh-ins and trademarked the name. Later chains took the smoosh-in concept and applied it to their own operations, creating a whole new industry around it. The popular Cold Stone Creamery now uses this model, as does Dairy Queen for its Blizzards and Wendy’s for its Twisted Frosty. Joe Crugnale, who bought the company in 1977 and would later found Bertucci’s, even claims that Ben and Jerry’s was a takeoff from the Steve’s model. Apparently Ben Cohen would come in all the time as a customer and take pictures of the ice cream and ask lots of questions.

Steve’s paved the way for the independent gourmet ice cream companies in Cambridge today, like JP Licks, Emack and Bolio’s and of course Toscanini’s, whose owner Gus Rancatore apprenticed with Steve Herrell years ago.

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