Alfred L. Cralle
Alfred L. Cralle (September 4, 1866 – 1920) an African-American from Virginia, who became an inventor and businessman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is best remembered for inventing the ice cream scoop in 1897.
Alfred L. Cralle was born in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia in 1866 just after the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865). He attended local schools and worked with his father in the carpentry trade as a young man, becoming interested in mechanics.
He was sent to Washington, DC where he attended Wayland Seminary, one of a number of schools founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to help educate African-Americans after the Civil War. He later settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he first served as a porter in a drug store and at a hotel.
It was while working in Pittsburgh as a porter that Cralle noticed that ice cream, which had become a popular confection, was difficult to dispense. It tended to stick to spoons and ladles, usually requiring use of two hands and at least two implements to serve. To overcome this, he invented a mechanical device now known as the ice cream scoop and applied for a patent. On February 2, 1897, he was granted U.S. Patent #576395.
Cralle’s ingenious invention, originally called an “Ice Cream Mold and Disher” was designed to be able to keep ice cream and other foods from sticking, and easy to operate with one hand. Strong and durable, effective, inexpensive, it could be constructed in almost any desired shape, such as a cone or a mound, with no delicate parts that could break or malfunction.
- US Certain new and useful Improvements in Ice-Cream Molds and Dishers 576395, Cralle, Alfred L., "Ice-Cream Mold and Disher", issued February 2, 1897