On this day in 1897, Alfred L. Cralle received a patent for inventing the ice cream scoop. Cralle applied for and received a patent (U.S. Patent #576395) on February 2, 1897 at 33 years old. He was the first man of color in Pittsburgh to receive a patent for an invention.
Cralle developed the idea of the ice cream scoop while working at a hotel. It came to him when he noticed ice cream servers having difficulty trying to get the ice cream into the cone they were holding. The ice cream tended to stick to spoons and ladles, usually requiring the server to use two hands.
Cralle’s invention was originally called the Ice Cream Mold and Disher and was designed to keep ice cream and other foods from sticking. It was designed to be strong, inexpensive and easy to use with one hand. The one-handed quick-release mechanical device spread so widely and so quickly that many never knew Cralle was the inventor. Thus, he never profited from his invention.