Coney Island's Role In The Creation Of Frozen Custard

When you think of Coney Island fare, you likely envision Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, cotton candy, and New York-style pizza by the slice. But did you know that the iconic Brooklyn amusement park is also the birthplace of ice cream's hardier sibling, frozen custard?

In the sweltering summer of 1919, Coney Island was buzzing with the cacophony of carnival rides, the laughter of families, and the rhythmic crash of ocean waves. Amidst the lively atmosphere, two Swiss-American brothers, Archie and Elton Kohr, stumbled upon a revolutionary idea that would forever change the landscape of chilled desserts. The Kohr brothers, both with an insatiable sweet tooth, had been experimenting with various ice cream concoctions in an attempt to whip up a creamier, richer alternative that wouldn't melt as quickly in the sun's heat. Their breakthrough came when they introduced egg yolks into the traditional ice cream recipe, which yielded a smoother, denser treat. The innovative blend was the start of what would become known around the world as frozen custard.

With their newfound creation in tow, the brothers set up a modest stand on the teeming Coney Island boardwalk. Little did they know, they were about to make history. The weekend of their grand opening saw an unprecedented success, with crowds flocking to taste the novelty. The brothers sold a staggering 18,000 cones during their few days in business, a reflection of the immediate, overwhelming popularity of their product.

Frozen custard is just over a century old

Word spread like wildfire about the frozen custard, and soon, the lines at the Coney Island stand became a permanent fixture of the summer scene. People from all walks of life — including locals and tourists alike — eagerly awaited their turn to savor the delectable luxury. As the demand soared, the Kohr brothers expanded their operation, opening multiple stands along the boardwalk and even venturing into new locations. Today, there are frozen custard stands all across America, including chains such as Culver's, Shake Shack, and Freddy's.

Over the ensuing decades, frozen custard became synonymous with Coney Island summers. Its marketability endured economic downturns, shifting culinary trends, and the natural passage of time. A testament to its timeless appeal, this treat has remained a beloved indulgence for more than a century. In fact, the global frozen custard market is forecasted to exceed $1.5 billion by 2028, according to Data Bridge Market Research. This figure attests to the lasting impact of the Kohrs' ingenuity and the irresistible allure of their invention, which continues to bring joy to generations of dessert enthusiasts.