Ice Delivery

The History of Ice Delivery

For many decades now, chilling a beverage with solid ice cubes and keeping foods frozen is nothing but normal in our daily lives. But, have you ever wondered how our ancestors enjoyed an ice cold beverage before electricity and refrigeration?

In the early 1800’s, the Tudor brothers from Boston, MA were able to experience the richness of chilled beverages and frozen treats. After one of the brother’s made a remark about how the other colonists sweating in the West Indies would envy their chilled beverages, the other brother Frederic, had an idea that really got him thinking. Although the remark by his brother William about harvesting ice and selling it in the West Indies was far from serious, Frederic took it literally. He then persuaded William to join him on the quest to ship ice to the Caribbean. The brothers were convinced that once peopled were able to try cold beverages and chilled treats, they wouldn’t want to live without ice.

Since no one thought that the Tudor’s idea would ever work, no ship around Boston would agree to participate in the shipment of ice blocks. Still being determined to go on the ice delivery quest, Frederic purchased his own ship for almost $5,000. Then in February of 1806, Frederic’s first shipment of 160,000 pounds of ice left the Boston port for the French Caribbean Island Martinique. Even after explaining to the other colonists of how the ice blocks could be used for many things, especially in the heat of the Caribbean, still no one would purchase it. Due to the failure of the first ice delivery, William backed out of the partnership with Frederic.

Determined that his idea would work and despite the loss in the first venture, Frederic continued with the ice block business. After getting through a series of unfortunate situations, he promoted his product throughout the United States, and was more convincing to people with a new business approach, including the “first one’s free” approach. Once Frederic convinced people to try and use his ice products, they realized they couldn’t and didn’t want to live without it. After reaching out to more and more people and businesses around his home including areas of Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and even Cuba, his ice business became much stronger and demand was rising.

As the demand for his ice blocks and ice products went up, Frederic realized he needed to enhance his business operation. He brought the pioneer, Nathaniel Wyeth who invented a faster more efficient ice harvesting method using a horse-drawn plow to cut the ice blocks. With a team of laborers, they unloaded the blocks of ice into the canals and sent them downstream. After the ice delivery downstream, only a small portion of the preserved ice made it to the destination to sell. The ice shipment operation was also very dangerous, due to the sliding stacks of ice blocks, freezing waters, and numbing limbs; the old term “ice man’s knees” came from the ice delivery laborers getting bruised and banged up knees after days of handling solid ice blocks sliding around the ship. Aside from the dangerous working conditions, which happened often in that time frame, the new fast and efficient ice delivery method worked and business began to grow even faster.

After 30 years from Frederic’s original idea, he became a monopoly in the ice delivery business, which he earned the name “Ice King” after shipping approximately 400,000 pounds of ice halfway around the world. His ice business was so successful that it renewed trade routes between Boston and India. In the United States, Frederic led the ice delivery industry, and by 1847 he had over 1-million pounds of ice delivered by ship or train to nearly 30 cities thought the U.S.

The industry of ice delivery began to broaden, Frederic Tudor was no longer running a monopoly as more Americans became accustom to preserving their foods with ice blocks and chilling their beverages with ice cubes. The ice industry then expanded into one of the most powerful industries in the United States. The high demand and dependence of ice for personal and business use is what brought on the technology of electric freezers and soon after ice machines in the 20th century.

Today, the ice business brings in about $2.5 billion each year, which is mostly from ice bags sold in retail stores. Frederic Tudor paved the way for entrepreneurs like Paul Toler, the founder of Emergency Ice, to provide ice products Dallas, Fort Worth, and Waco businesses and residents need. Mr. Toler’s dream started with one ice delivery truck and a promise to guarantee ice services and superior customer satisfaction. Still a family owned business, Emergency Ice is Dallas, Fort Worth, and Waco’s premier ice delivery company that Texans rely on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.