Prohibition during the 1920s and 1930s may have kept people from drinking and going to their local bars (not to mention keeping our service members out of trouble), but it definitely didn’t take away their sweet tooth. The ban of alcohol from naval ships led to the creation of the WWII ice cream ship.
Before the WWII Ice Cream Ship, Ice Cream Wasn’t So Popular
The United States’s ban on alcohol for thirteen years may have taken away the legal consumption of alcohol, but it did end up helping the bootleggers and pharmaceutical companies. It even helped ice cream gain the popularity it deserves after only being a novelty for a while.
In the year 1914, General Order No. 99 banned alcohol from United States Navy ships. Following quickly after this was the 18th Amendment, which made alcohol illegal throughout the entire country.
Since the party poopers in charge didn’t want anyone to have fun, people had to find other outlets, beverages, and treats to craze over. Breweries had to change their business plans just to keep afloat, so companies like Pennsylvania’s Yuengling and Michigan’s Stroh’s turned their formula for beer into ice cream.
After a decade of ice cream sales skyrocketing throughout the country, it was time for some experiments, which led to the creation of one of the most popular ice cream flavors today. Thanks to ice cream and candy makers William Dreyer and Joseph Edy combining together marshmallows and chocolate ice cream, we now get to enjoy rocky road ice cream forever.
The Creation of the WWII Ice Cream Ship
Since Sailors needed a way to take the edge off while out at sea and their vessels were dry of liquor, ice cream was their treat of choice, with the newly-created rocky road being a huge hit. Since freezer technology became more advanced, they were able to have their favorite snack out at sea.
Once prohibition was over, Sailors still had their love for ice cream, so much so that in 1942, when the USS Lexington began sinking from damage by a Japanese torpedo, Sailors were grabbing containers of ice cream from the freezers and eating it as they abandoned ship.
The dedication to saving the ice cream made it apparent how much Sailors truly loved this tasty treat. So, the United States Navy decided to spend $1 million to build the iconic WWII ice cream ship so that they were able to have a safe supply of ice cream available to them at all times.
How Much Ice Cream Was on the Navy Ship?
To create the WWII ice cream ship, the quartermaster corps borrowed a concrete barge from the U.S. Army. The ice cream ship was reconstructed to be a functioning ice cream factory and parlor that was pulled around by tug boats to deliver ice cream to smaller naval ships that were unable to make ice cream on their own.
The ship was stationed in the Western Pacific and was able to make ten gallons of ice cream in seven minutes. So, luckily for Sailors, the ice cream barge was able to make 500 gallons of ice cream and chart around 2,000 gallons of ice cream that was available to them at all times.
What Was the WWII Ice Cream Ship Called?
Although the WWII ice cream ship was a staple on the seas during World War II, the Navy never actually ended up naming their most prized possession. I like to think that “USS Ice Cream Float” would have been suitable for the ship instead of leaving it unnamed.
Unfortunately, the WWII ice cream ship, or the “USS Ice Cream Float,” is now out of commission. The ship stopped delivering ice cream to Sailors a long time ago, but it’s said that the ship still lies somewhere in a bay with many other concrete ships from the World War II era.