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412 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI
48109-1399
PHONE: (734)764-7260
FAX: (734) 764-7084

 

June 1, 2004

The iceman cometh to U-M

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—No air-conditioning, frozen or refrigerated foods, iced drinks or ice cream. That's just a sampling of how drastically different our lives and diets would be if there was no refrigeration.

"It was not so very long ago," said Janice Longone, curator of culinary history at the University of Michigan's Clements Library, "that meat was preserved primarily by drying or salting, that milk could be preserved only in the form of butter and cheese, that fresh fruits and vegetables were only available seasonally in areas where they were grown."

And then came ice and icehouses followed by mechanical refrigeration. It is that history of American ingenuity that Longone illustrates in the exhibition "The Iceman Cometh... and Goeth" at the Clements Library June 8 through September.

"Throughout history, the wealthy and powerful had icehouses and ice available to them in limited quantities," Longone said. "But it took that American ingenuity to make ice available to all. The democratization of ice was largely due to a couple of 19th century Yankee businessmen."

The exhibition explores the history of the American ice industry from New England pond ice harvesting to the introduction of mechanical refrigeration. It includes:

—The story of the Ice King, Frederic Tudor, and his collaborator Nathaniel Wyeth.

—The 1803 book by Thomas Moore, "An Essay on the Most Eligible Construction of Ice-Houses."

—The tools, equipment and methods of natural ice harvesting and its distribution, including the successful arrival in 1833 of a ship carrying ice from Boston to Calcutta, crossing the equator twice.

—The manufactured ice industry and how it revolutionized food and eating in America.

—The introduction of mechanical refrigerators, with the millionth Frigidaire sold by 1929 and the millionth General Electric Refrigerator by 1931.

—Icehouses, ice cards, icemen, iceboxes, tools of the trade, advertising.

"The use (or overuse) of ice and refrigeration is one of the features of American life most commented upon by visitors to our shores," Longone said. "This exhibition makes use of the diverse resources of the Clements Library to explain the whys and hows of this phenomenon of our culture."

The exhibit can be viewed at the Clements Library Mon.-Fri. 1-4:30 p.m. June 8 through September. The Clements is at 909 S. University Ave. in Ann Arbor on U-M's Central Campus. For more information call (734) 764-2347 or visit www.clements.umich.edu. The exhibition is free.

Longone, a nationally renowned food historian, will present a lecture sponsored by the Clements and the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor on the history of the ice industry 3-5 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Clements Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Related links:

Iceman exhibit: http://www.clements.umich.edu/Exhibits/iceman/

Images for downloading: http://www.umich.edu/news/Releases/2004/Jun04/icepop.html

 

Contact: Joanne Nesbit
Phone: (734) 647-4418
E-mail: mjnesbit@umich.edu