CLAIM

Vanilla ice cream was originally a deep, dark black color before white people demanded it be changed in 1912. See Example(s)

EXAMPLES
Collected via Facebook, January 2017

vanilla ice cream originally black

false

RATING

false

ORIGIN

On 18 January 2017 at least two Facebook pages shared the above-reproduced meme, which claims that vanilla ice cream was originally a deep black color, but it offended white people so much that its hue was changed in 1912:

My grandma lived to be 102. She told us in her days, the early 1900’s they ate vanilla ice cream in it’s Original Color but when she reached a teen, 1912, it changed to White. She said White people couldn’t tolerate eating something that tasted Soooooo delicious being black, so started your “Added Preservatives”

One does not need to be a history buff or a culinary whiz to be skeptical of the claim’s veracity. Anyone who has ever made vanilla dishes is probably aware that vanilla packs a lot of flavor into a relatively small bean, and is rarely more visible than small dark specks in dishes like creme brulee.

Early images of ice cream are easy to find. The oldest we could dig up is from 1876:

1876 ice cream

One from the same era showed boys in London eating pale ice cream, and an 1899 shot of prohibitionist Carry Nation depicted her with a white vanilla cone as well:

1902 ice cream
Photographs from 1900, 1908, and 1909 showed similarly pale ice cream.

 

We found dozens of photographs of black ice cream, with or without a black cone. The photographs shared a common thread: attribution to New York City ice cream shop Morgenstern’s, and its “coconut ash” flavor:

We contacted a representative for Morgenstern’s, who told us that the image indeed showed its “charcoal ash” flavor. The representative confirmed that they also sold black cones.

So while the image of black ice cream is real, the backstory is not. Vanilla ice cream is naturally off-white, and the meme has no basis in fact.

Sources:

Kansas Historical Society.   “Carry A. Nation.”
    Accessed 18 January 2017.

Getty Images.   “Society Women Eating Ice Cream Cones.”
    Accessed 18 January 2017.

Minnesota Historical Society.   “Ice Cream!”
    Accessed 18 January 2017.

The Portal to Texas History.   “An Ice Cream Social At The First Methodist Church In Texas City Around 1909.”
    Accessed 18 January 2017.

Photo History, Sussex.   “Bolla & Biucchi And The Fortune Of War.”
    Accessed 18 January 2017.