Tuesday, February 7, 2012

7 February 1922: "A Brand New Joy for a Nation!"

On this day 90 years ago, in 1922, the Athens-area was experiencing their first Eskimo Pies after the Joseph Costa Company licensed the patented method of creating the chocolate-coated ice cream bars:

(click to enlarge image)

Ads in anticipation of the new product's availablity on Monday morning, the Costa Company urged Athenians to "jump out of bed and dress as quickly as you can; then beat it to the nearest soda fount" to "get the treat of your life."

Created by an Iowa sweets shop owner, Christian Kent Nelson in 1920, the chocolate-covered ice cream  squares were originally called "I-Scream" bars. Nelson patented his method of adhering chocolate (or any candy coating) to ice cream, then partnered with chocolatier Russell Stover in 1921, the name of the treat was changed to "Eskimo Pies," and licenses were sold to regional manufacturers.

The Costa company paid between $500.00-$1,000.00 for the license rights to make the Eskimo Pies, plus a small royalty fee on each pie sold. According to the Smithsonian, by 1922, Nelson was earning $2,000.00 per day on the royalty fees from the 2,700 manufacturers in the United States making the ice cream bar, who were selling 1 million pies per day.

In Athens, the pies were available at a dozen locations, including many drug store soda fountains, the New York Cafe, Thornton's Cafeteria, Boston Candy Kitchen, John Petropol's, and the Q Room. They were likely available as well as Costa's own shop on College Avenue, in the center of the bottom floor of the Southern Mutual building. As recalled by Dean William Tate, "'Costa's' -- that was a magic word with us students in the 1920s, and with Athens people, too. "

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