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Iowa History Daily: January 24 - Onawa's Eskimo Pie

Iowa History Daily: On January 24, 1922, Christian K. Nelson of Onawa, Iowa, patented the popular ice cream treat then known as the Eskimo Pie (now Edy’s Pie). The popular dairy treat helped to stabilize dairy business in Iowa during the Great Depression, and remains a popular dessert today.

Born in Denmark, Nelson immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s and settled in Onawa where he worked as a school teacher and operated a store. He claimed the inspiration for his dairy treat came when a child in his store couldn’t decide between purchasing an ice cream or a chocolate bar in 1920. Over the next two years, Nelson experimented with ways to adhere melted chocolate to a frozen ice cream center.

Nelson perfected his invention and started selling the treat under the name I-Scream Bars. Russell Stover liked the idea, and decided to mass-produce the bars under the condition the name change to “Eskimo Pie,” a moniker dreamed up by his wife. 

By 1922, Americans devoured Eskimo Pies at a rate of 1,000,000 per day. Nelson temporarily sold out of the business before returning, and worked at the company until he died at the age of 99 in 1992. In 2021, the corporation which owns the popular confection decided to rebrand and reintroduce the product as the “Edy’s Pie.” #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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