|Ice cubes are as American as apple pie. From their invention to present day, ice cubes have been the go-to way to keep a cold drink cold, and satiate our need to cool off when out in the sun on a hot day. The size and shape of ice cubes have changed throughout the decades, from large squares, to small rectangles, to round ice cubes, but their function has remained the same. When you and your friends are mixing up cocktails in the summer heat, you know the drinks can keep flowing as long as you’ve got plenty of ice.
A Brief History of the Ice Cube
The invention of the ice cube is credited to American physician John Gorrie. Dr. Gorrie set out to invent a device to cool the air in rooms, based on the theory of the day that cool air perpetuated good health. His refrigerator just so happened to create large blocks of ice in the process. From there, the ice cube moved into the home, with ice cube trays becoming common in kitchen refrigerators across the country. Early trays were made of metal, with levers that raised the ice out of the small, frozen grid. Later, flexible plastic ice cube trays became common, providing the easy of ready-to-use ice with a simple twist. Today round ice cubes created by sphere ice molds are becoming more popular, offering a distinctive look and slower melting times.
Which is Better? Cubes or Crushed
In the early days, ice would be delivered to a home in a large block, measuring a cubic foot or more in size. The drinkers would then crush the ice into small pieces and shavings to add to their drinks. Although crushed ice has the benefits of working well in a cocktail shaker, and making great snow cones, cubes are actually the better choice. Larger pieces, like those made in an ice ball mold, stay frozen longer, with less surface area touching the liquid that conventional smaller cubes. The whiskey ball, for example, minimizes dilution, therefore preserving the flavor of the spirits. Other shapes, such as hearts, stars, and other funny options are typically smaller, but still superior to crushed ice when it comes to slow melting times.
Types of Ice Cube Trays
A number of materials work well in the fabrication of ice cube trays. Round ice cubes are achieved through a combination of silicone and BPA-free plastic, that fit together much like the molds of sculptors and ceramicists. Other ice cube trays can be made from strong, flexible silicone, rigid hard plastic, and even stainless steel. Many industrial ice machines freeze the water in cylindrical metal tubes, and and push the water through until frozen, cutting it off as it flows out the opposite end. No matter what material is used to create the mold, ice cubes are a long-held American tradition, creating cold beverages from tabletops to tailgates across the country.