Eskimo Pie

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Eskimo Pie box, undated.

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,[1] and are produced by Tip Top who are now a subsidiary of Fonterra, the country's largest multinational company.[2]


Christian Kent Nelson, 1922.

Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson (1893-1992),[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

Eskimo Pies Advertisement, November 3, 1921.
The abandoned Rosedale Dairy, Fort Dodge, Iowa, longtime manufacturer of Eskimo Pies.

Stover sold his share of the business. He then formed the well-known chocolate manufacturer Russell Stover Candies.[6] Nelson became independently wealthy off the royalties from the sale of Eskimo Pies. In 1922 he was selling one million pies a day.[7]

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[edit]

CoolBrands International, a Markham, Ontario-based company, acquired Eskimo Pie Corporation in 2000.

Originally a yogurt 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[8] 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.[9][10] Its DSD (Direct Store Delivery) operation, a Whole Fruit business and the Breyers yogurt brand were sold to other companies,[11] leaving little more than a publicly listed shell which was merged with Swisher Hygiene Inc. in a 2010 reverse takeover.

Licensed companies[edit]

Companies around the world which licensed the "Eskimo Pie" name and manufacturing process include:

Racial controversy[edit]

News headlines were made in New Zealand after a female Inuk tourist from Canada alleged that the use of 'Eskimo' was racially insulting.[13] 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.[1][14]

In popular culture[edit]

Eskimo pie was mentioned in the 1927 song Ice Cream (I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream), which became a jazz standard.

"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.

Eskimo pie was mentioned in one of Ray Bradbury's literary works, Dandelion Wine.

In French, Russian and Ukrainian the word "Eskimo" (Эскимо/Ескімо) is used as a general name (not a trademark) for any chocolate-covered ice-cream with a wooden stick to handle it.

The seminal Australian punk band Radio Birdman have a song called "I-94" on the EP Burn My Eye which contains the lyric "Eskimo Pies comin' to you, Yeah burning to you straight from hell".

In the 1996 crime drama The Chamber, Gene Hackman's character, Sam Cayhall, has Eskimo Pies and coffee for his last meal.

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 3, episode 19 of Pretty Little Liars, Aria says that all Hanna ate after breaking up with her boyfriend was Eskimo Pies (though they were apparently actually Skinny Cows)

In Season 4, episode 9 of "Boardwalk Empire", Gillian eats eskimo pie on the boardwalk

In Season 1, episode 15 of "The Big Bang Theory", Sheldon reveals Eskimo Pies give Leonard flatulence.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Eskimo stays despite frosty reception". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. April 22, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Tip Top Eskimo Pie – Fonterra Food Services – Products". Fonterra Food Services. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ James T. Ehler (1992-03-08). "Christian Kent Nelson: Who's Who in Food History". Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  5. ^ "Eskimo Pies". Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  6. ^ "History of Russell Stover Candies Inc. – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  7. ^ Duan, Charles (20 October 2015). "Ice Cream Patent Headache". Slate (magazine). Retrieved 20 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "CoolBrands sells Eskimo Pie, Chipwich brands to Dreyer's". CBC News. 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  9. ^ CoolBrands press release announcing sale of Eskimo Pie and Chipwich
  10. ^ "History of Eskimo Pie Corporation – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  11. ^ "Healthy Food Holdings to Acquire Breyers(R) Yogurt Business – re> BOULDER, Colo., Jan. 2". Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  12. ^ "Alaska Ice Cream Company". The Register (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 29 August 1923. p. 7. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "It's the great Eskimo debate". Waikato Times. April 23, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Eskimo lolly will have no name change". Television New Zealand. April 22, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 

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