In celebration of Black History Month, rolling out is highlighting important figures in Black culture. Today, we examine the accomplishments of Alfred L. Cralle. We all love ice cream, but many of us don’t know who made scooping the delicious dessert simple and easy to serve. Cralle was an African American businessman and inventor who was born in 1866 near the end of the Civil War period. As a young boy, he took after his father learning the trade of carpentry. Later, he became interested in mechanics. He moved to Washington, D.C., for his higher education, but didn’t stay long. After only two years in school, he moved to Pittsburgh to settle and start his career.
Cralle began working at a local drugstore and a hotel. It was during this time that he had the idea of the ice cream scoop. He developed the idea for this new invention after watching ice cream servers struggle to transfer the scoop from the spoon to the cone or cup with ease. Cralle thought there must be a more simple way to serve ice cream without it sticking to the spoon and the use of two hands to serve it. He solved the problem on Feb. 2, 1897, at the age of 30 when it was patented (No. 576395). The invention was originally called an Ice Cream Mold and Disher, with its easy to maneuver one hand capability. Although his invention was extremely popular and made many lives easier, Cralle didn’t gain major acclaim or financial gain from it. He also was invested in Black businesses, serving as the assistant manager the Afro-American Financial, Accumulating, Merchandise, and Business Association. Today, we thank Alfred L. Cralle for his contributions.