Discover the inspiring story of Augustus Jackson, an African American entrepreneur who is known as “the father of ice cream,” in this beautifully illustrated picture-book biography.
Augustus Jackson was born in 1808 in Philadelphia. While most African Americans were enslaved at that time, in Pennsylvania, slavery was against the law. But while Augustus and his family were free, they were poor, and they depended on their garden and their chickens for food. Augustus enjoyed helping his mom prepare meals for their family. He dreamed of becoming a professional cook, and when his mom suggested he may be able to make meals for the president one day, Augustus didn’t waste any time in making that dream a reality. In 1820, when he was only twelve years old, he set off for Washington, DC. He applied to work in the White House, where the head cook offered him a job as a kitchen helper. After five years of working hard, Augustus, or Gus, was promoted to cook. He went on to serve presidents James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson.
During his time at the White House, Augustus became an expert at making a popular egg-based dessert. He soon made an eggless version—known to us today as ice cream—and left the White House determined to make and sell the frozen treat to everyone, not just the wealthy. Gus headed back home to Philadelphia, and in 1830, he opened his very own ice cream parlor. He devised a way to keep the ice cream frozen so that it could be shipped and sold to other businesses. Gus also began adding rock salt to the ice that he used to make his ice cream, which made the mixture freeze more quickly. This allowed him to speed up his production process. He created more ice cream with new flavors, and soon he was shipping product via train to places like New York City, which was 100 miles away. Gus’s dream had come true, and better yet, he had brought smiles to many faces.
Shining a light on a little-known visionary, this inspiring picture-book biography includes an afterword, a list of sources, and an easy-to-follow recipe so readers can make their own delicious ice cream!
Age Range: 4-8