Episode 008 – How America Got Cool

This week In The Past Lane looks into the little know and yet hugely significant development of the ice and refrigeration industries in US history. 1) first we tell the story of the Frederick Tudor, The “Ice King,” who single-handedly invented the ice industry way back in 1806. This development radically redefined the American life, especially the American diet. 2) Then we check in with historian Jonathan Rees, the subscribe-buttonnation’s leading authority on all things related refrigeration, to learn how mechanical refrigeration and machine-made ice accelerated this transformation of everyday life. 3) Finally, we take just a few minutes to visit a unique bar in New York City. It’s called Minus 5 and with the exception of the floor and ceiling, it’s made entirely of ice and kept at a temperature of Minus 5 centigrade (minus 19 F). Yeah, I know …

Episode 008 notes and credits

Further Reading about the history of ice and refrigerationRees - RefrigerationNation copy

Oscar Edward Anderson, Jr. Refrigeration in America: A History of a New Technology and Its Impact (Princeton University Press, 1953).

Mariana Gosnell, Ice: The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance (Knopf, 2005)

Jonathan Rees, Refrigeration Nation: A History of Ice, Appliances, and Enterprise in America (John Hopkins University Press, 2013)

Jonathan Rees, Refrigerator (Bloomsbury, 2015)

Carl Seaburg and Stanley Paterson, The Ice King: Frederic Tudor and His Circle (Massachusetts Historical Society and Mystic Seaport, 2003).

Gavin Weightman, The Frozen-Water Trade: A True Story (Hyperion, 2003)


Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy,

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)

Andy Cohen, “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “On The Street” (Free Music Archive)

Jason Shaw, “Jenny’s Theme (Free Music Archive)

  • Amerikan Rambler

    Very interesting podcast. Thank you. As usual, Massachusetts was on the cutting edge.

    • Edward T. O’Donnell

      Thanks! Yes, cutting edge, block by block!