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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Great Los Angeles Ice Cream Shortage of 1909

Add Aug. 30, 1909 to the list of terrible dates in Los Angeles history. That's the day Los Angeles ran out of ice cream. The Los Angeles Times flashes back to that dark moment in city history:

In the middle of a heat wave, Angelenos rushed to buy ice cream by the gallons as merchants struggled to keep up with demand.

"It is estimated that more than $20,000 was spent by the public during the day in its effort to keep cool by the ice-cream route," The Times reported. (That's about $410,600 in today's dollars.) "In the residence districts the peddlers of ice cream ran out of every stock early in the morning, and it was almost impossible for them to replenish their supplies."

"In some cases the wagons made several trips from distant points to the factories, each time obtaining but a portion of the stock they required," the newspaper said. "The peddlers found it unnecessary to ring their gongs to attract trade: women and children flocked to the curbs and clamored for the dainty.

"Reserve stocks of ice at the factories melted away at the rate of hundreds of tons an hour, and crews at the manufacturing plants were put on double time in an effort to meet the demand.

Thankfully, an ice cream drought would never happen in our modern era. Think about that the next time you opine for the "good ol' days."

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