The year America declared independence from Great Britain just happened to be the same year the first ice cream parlor opened in New York City. This was unfortunate for Colonial soldiers since the British occupied the city from 1776 until the war’s end.
While I wasn’t able to find much information on the 1776 parlor, I was able to discover one operating in 1784. George Washington is reported to have spent $200 (around $14K today) on ice cream at the shop during his stay in the Big Apple. Apparently, he was making up for all the ice cream he missed during the war.
If you’re thinking of getting a cone from the same parlor as our first president, don’t bother. It’s long gone. Don’t let that stop you from getting ice cream from America’s (and the world’s) oldest ongoing ice cream parlor. You’ll just need to head about 1000 miles west of New York City to Wilton, Iowa, where you’ll find the Wilton Candy Kitchen.
The Wilton Candy Kitchen has been operated by the Nopoulos family since 1910. These days you’ll find George Nopoulos and his wife Thelma running the place. The two met while working together at the shop in their teens, and they’re still serving up ice cream sundaes, shakes and floats.
If you’re considering a trip to Iowa, make certain to visit the Wilton Candy Kitchen. It appears you’ll also be treated to a trip back in time.