Who Invented the Ice Cream Scoop


Alfred Cralle was an inventor and a businessman who lived in Pittsburgh by way of Virginia. He was an African-American who was born just after the Civil War, so he was able to take advantage of the new options for schooling and business that were available to his family. Growing up, he worked with his father’s carpentry business and became fascinated by mechanics.

When he was old enough, his family sent him to study at Wayland Seminary, which was a school that was specifically founded to help African-Americans achieve higher levels of education right after the Civil War. After graduating, he settled down and began to work as a porter at a local drug store. It was there that he realized that it was rather difficult to serve ice cream in a convenient way.

What Made the Ice Cream Scoop Different?

If you’ve ever scooped ice cream out of a container with a spoon, you know how messy and difficult it can be when the ice cream is really hard. The spoon can bend, you tend to get ice cream all of your fingers, and you end up with a sticky mess. The ice cream mold and disher that Cralle invented, which he was given a patent on in 1897, was a basic mechanical device that many homes today still use because it is such an ingenious invention.

The ice cream scoop is stronger and more durable than a typical spoon and its rounded shape helps ice cream and other foods to not stick to its surface. It’s strong enough that it can be operated with just one hand and different designs can create different shapes so the ice cream can fit into a specific receptacle, like a cone or a mound for a dish. Best of all, there’s no parts that will just break off or malfunction because they are so delicate.

What Was Notable About This Simple Invention?

Even though Cralle is remembered as being the inventor of the ice cream scoop, he is also remembered as being one of the first African-Americans in the country to be awarded a patent without having a white partner. He was the first African-American in Pittsburgh to receive a patent for his invention and that has made him a leader in the civil rights movement that was slowly starting to build after the culmination of the Civil War.

When you look at the ice cream scoop, which is essentially the same basic design that Cralle invented, what you’re seeing is the first steps in a journey that eventually led to equal rights in the United States. For that reason, Cralle is often celebrated as one of the leading visionaries of the African-American culture when looking back at history. He was a hard-working man who was willing to put in the sweat equity required to earn a fair wage.

Even though Cralle only holds this one primary invention, it has become a staple of almost every household around the world. The next time you get an ice cream cone and you see an ice cream scoop used to put the ice cream in there, you can smile and thank Alfred Cralle for his ingenuity. Then you can take a bite.

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