Eskimo Pie is a brand name for a chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bar wrapped in foil, the first such dessert sold in the United States. It is now marketed by Nestlé, owners of Dreyer's of the Western United States, and Edy's of the Eastern United States. The product was introduced to New Zealand in the 1940s, and are produced by Tip Top who are now a subsidiary of Fonterra, the country's largest multinational company.
Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson, a schoolteacher and candy store owner, claimed to have received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920 in Onawa, Iowa, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar. After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention under the name "I-Scream Bars." In 1921, he filed for a patent, and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name "Eskimo Pie" (a name suggested by Mrs. Stover), and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation. After patent 1,404,539 was issued on January 24, 1922, Nelson franchised the product, allowing ice cream manufacturers to produce them under that name. The patent, which applied to any type of frozen material covered with candy, was invalidated in 1929. One of the earliest advertisements for Eskimo Pies appeared in the November 3, 1921 issue of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Stover sold his share of the business. He then formed the well-known chocolate manufacturer Russell Stover Candies. Nelson became independently wealthy off the royalties from the sale of Eskimo Pies.
Nelson then sold his share of the business to the United States Foil Company, which made the Eskimo Pie wrappers. He retired at a young age, but reportedly out of boredom rejoined what was then called Reynolds Metals Company (now part of Alcoa) in 1935, inventing new methods of manufacturing and shipping Eskimo Pies and serving as an executive until his ultimate retirement in 1961.
In 1992, Nelson died at the age of 99. In that same year, Eskimo Pie Corporation was spun off from Reynolds in an initial public offering, as an alternative to an acquisition that Nestlé had proposed in 1991.
CoolBrands and Nestlé
Originally a yoghurt maker, CoolBrands at one point owned or held exclusive long-term licenses for brands including Eskimo Pie, Chipwich, Weight Watchers, Godiva, Tropicana, Betty Crocker, Trix, Yoo hoo and Welch's. The company encountered financial difficulties after losing the Weight Watchers/Smart Ones licence in 2004 and sold its restaurant franchise division at the end of 2005.
By 2007, CoolBrands was selling off core assets. In February 2007, CoolBrands sold Eskimo Pie and Chipwich to the Dreyer's division of Nestlé. Its DSD (Direct Store Delivery) operation, a Whole Fruit business and the Breyers yogurt brand were sold to other companies, leaving little more than a publicly listed shell which was merged with Swisher Hygiene Inc. in a 2010 reverse takeover.
News headlines were made in New Zealand after a female Inuk tourist from Canada alleged that the use of 'Eskimo' was racially insulting. The allegation was not positively received in New Zealand and both the manufacturer and Cadbury Pascall, who produce the similarly named Eskimo marshmallow sweets, commented there were no plans to either rename the products or cease production.
In popular culture
"Eskimo pie" was featured in the chorus of Jeremy Taylor (singer)'s song Ag Pleez Deddy which was a massively popular South African hit in the 1960s. George Jones also wrote and recorded a song called "Eskimo Pie" in 1957.
In the 1978 movie "Grease" Kenickie ask the waitress for Eskimo Pie.
In the movie "Post-grad" "Eskimo Pie"s feature as an ongoing motif, which is used as a symbol of friendship and a platonic relationship.
In the episode "Santa Ana Street Fight" of the show Storage Wars, Darrell finds an Eskimo Pie jar worth about $3000.
In Alice Cooper's song Cold Ethyl, from his album Welcome to my Nightmare, he compares "Cold Ethyl", a deceased woman with whom he is having intercourse, to an eskimo pie since she is so frigid, having died a while ago.
In Season 8, episode 5 of Weeds Det. Mitch Ouellette says that he has some eskimo pies in the freezer.
In the TV series "Two And A Half Men", the characters sometimes mentions that they want an eskimo pie or that they have some in the freezer.
In the play Inherit the Wind, based on the 1925 Scopes Trial, Eskimo Pies were sold outside the courthouse after the trial. Close reading of the Lawrence & Lee script, page 73, indicates the Eskimo Pie salesman is inside the courtroom. Indeed, the ice cream hawker's cry, "Eskimo Pies. Get your Eskimo Pies!" is the comedic key that unlocks the theatrical door through which the audience steps from the incredibly tense courtroom drama into the chaos which swiftly engulfs the William Jennings Bryan character, Colonel Brady.
In Season 1, episode 8 of the TV series Orphan Black, before going to get Eskimo Pies for Delphine, Cosima tells her that she is "about to become a craven addict".
In Season 4, episode 9 of Boardwalk Empire, Gillian eats eskimo pie on the boardwalk
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- "Tip Top Eskimo Pie - Fonterra Food Services - Products". Fonterra Food Services. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
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- CoolBrands press release announcing sale of Eskimo Pie and Chipwich
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- "Eskimo lolly will have no name change". Television New Zealand. April 22, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
- History of the Eskimo Pie, from the Smithsonian Institution
- Neilson Dairy history
- U.S. Patent 1,404,539
- CoolBrands press release announcing sale of Eskimo Pie to Dreyer's