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IRI May 29, 2019 0 Comments

Life without artificial cold is hard to imagine in the developed world.

But it all started 200 years ago with some giant ice cubes.

In the early summer months of 1834, a three-masted ship named the Madagascar sailed into the port of Rio de Janeiro, its hull filled with the most implausible of cargo – a frozen New England lake.

The Madagascar and her crew were in the service of an enterprising and dogged Boston businessman named Frederic Tudor.

As a well-to-do young Bostonian, Tudor’s family had long enjoyed the frozen water from the pond on their country estate, Rockwood – not just for its aesthetics, but also for its enduring capacity to keep things cold.

Like many wealthy families in northern climes, the Tudors stored blocks of frozen lake water in ice houses, 200lb (90kg) ice cubes that would remain marvellously unmelted until the hot summer months arrived, and a new ritual began. Chipping off slices from the blocks to freshen drinks, make ice cream, cool down a bath during a heat wave.

At the age of 17, Tudor’s father sent him on a voyage to the Caribbean. Suffering through the inescapable humidity of the tropics in the full regalia of a 19th Century gentleman suggested a radical – some would say preposterous – idea to young Frederic Tudor.

If he could somehow transport ice from the frozen north to the West Indies, there would be an immense market for it.

In November 1805, Tudor dispatched his brother William to Martinique as an advance guard, bought a brig called the Favorite and began harvesting ice in preparation for the journey.

In February, Tudor set sail from Boston Harbour, the Favorite loaded with a full cargo of Rockwood ice, bound for the West Indies.

“No joke,” the Boston Gazette reported.

“A vessel with a cargo of 80 tons of Ice has cleared out from this port for Martinique. We hope this will not prove to be a slippery speculation.”

The Gazette’s derision would turn out to be well founded, though not for the reasons one might expect.

Despite weather-related delays, the ice survived the journey in remarkably good shape. The problem proved to be one that Tudor had never contemplated.

The residents of Martinique had no interest in his exotic frozen bounty. They simply had no idea what to do with it.

Read the full story here, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-02b44e78-2da1-4a27-bcc5-dd0de5f38b20