Wednesday, August 30, 2006

TIMES PAST 1909: Heat wave spurs ice cream shortage

Aug. 30, 1909: In the middle of a heat wave, Angelenos rushed to buy ice cream by the gallons as merchants struggled to keep up with demand. "It is estimated that more than $20,000 was spent by the public during the day in its effort to keep cool by the ice-cream route," The Times reported. (That's about $410,600 in today's dollars.) "In the residence districts the peddlers of ice cream ran out of every stock early in the morning, and it was almost impossible for them to replenish their supplies."

"In some cases the wagons made several trips from distant points to the factories, each time obtaining but a portion of the stock they required," the newspaper said. "The peddlers found it unnecessary to ring their gongs to attract trade: women and children flocked to the curbs and clamored for the dainty. "Reserve stocks of ice at the factories melted away at the rate of hundreds of tons an hour, and crews at the manufacturing plants were put on double time in an effort to meet the demand. "The only relief for the situation is the prospect of cooler weather today or tomorrow." (TIMES PAST is a column that appears daily in the Los Angeles Times)

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