Ice cream’s popularity and availability increased with the invention of the first hand-cranked freezer, which was patented in 1843. The first commercial plant for mass production of ice cream opened in 1851 in Baltimore, Maryland. By the end of the century, commercial pro¬duction had surpassed 5 million gallons. As the U.S. population went through tremendous growth, with one wave of immigrants after another entering the country, the demand for ice cream continued to increase. Technological developments—including pasteurization (in 1895), homogenization (in 1899), continuous freezing (in 1926), and overall improvements in production, storage, and distribution—also supported increased consumption.
At the beginning of the 20th century, most ice cream consumption took place away from the home, usually in an ice cream parlor, but consumers soon began the habit of home consumption, carrying their ice cream home in small paperboard containers, typically pints, for immediate consumption. As home refrigeration improved and expanded, ice cream prepackaging at the point of production began to compete with ice cream hand-packed at the ice cream parlor. By the 1920s, marketers were offering prepackaged ice cream in con¬tainers that were the shape and size of ice cube trays made to fit in home freezers. Half-gallon packages debuted in 1948. With time, sales shifted away from hand-packed to prepackaged ice cream, as supermarkets became the dominant chan¬nel of grocery sales and home refrigeration became ubiquitous.