Ice Cream Mix History: A Brief Look at Junket
Where did ice cream mixes come from?
Junket, one of the more popular ice cream mix brands and a top pick in this article, traces its roots all the way back to Europe in the late 1800’s.
As you make ice cream at home, consider reading this story to the kiddos to learn more about the history of food, chemistry and innovation.
With the brand’s permission, here’s a reprint of the company’s interesting journey:
Denmark at the start: cheese!
“The story of the Junket brand begins in Denmark in 1874, when Christian D. A. Hansen founded Hansen’s Technical-Chemical Laboratory in Denmark to make rennet extract for the cheese making industry.
Hansen was born in 1843. In 1864 he earned his MA in pharmaceuticals and after some time as a pharmacist as well as editor of publications about pharmaceuticals he began working as an assistant at the chemical laboratory of the University of Copenhagen. In 1872 he won an award for his research. Throughout his life he continued to work in the field of pharmaceuticals and to fund education.
One of the topics of Hansen’s research at the University was digestive enzymes, including pepsin. In 1873 he and a partner opened a small factory that made pepsin preparations for people suffering from digestive problems. Hansen also began working with rennet, which is produced in the fourth stomach of ruminants such as cows and is used in making cheese; the rennet makes the milk coagulate so that the watery whey can be drained away, leaving the curds that become cheese.
The source of the rennet was normally calves that had not yet been weaned, and thus it was available only when a calf was slaughtered. While there were various ways of extracting and preserving the rennet needed for cheesemaking, there was no standardization of the strength of the solution and the results were often unsanitary.
Hansen used his experience in chemistry and pharmacology to produce “an extract of high keeping quality, uniform strength, and free from the contaminating impurities characteristic of the – often foul – liquid of uncertain coagulating power produced by soaking the stomachs in whey in the dairy.”
In 1874 Chr. Hansen’s Technical Chemical Laboratory (which came to be known simply as Chr. Hansen’s Laboratory) was founded in Copenhagen. Its products, which besides rennet included coloring to add to the milk to make the cheese more attractive, rapidly became very widely used in the cheese industry not only in Denmark but in many other countries.
The New York branch: Junket comes to the U.S.
In 1877, Johan D. Frederiksen, a Danish dairyman and agriculturalist, emigrated to the United States and the following year opened a branch of Chr. Hansen’s Laboratory in New York State, which at the time was the hub of the developing cheese-making industry in America.
In 1882 the plant moved to Little Falls, New York. In 1891 a new factory built on Lock Island in the Mohawk River at Little Falls began operations; the island was renamed Hansen Island. The factory grew over the years.