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Fort Worth Flashback: Ready availability of ice changed home life

Posted June 18, 2012

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The White Elephant Saloon’s boast that it sold “ice cold’ beer” became possible only after Fort Worth’s Crystal Ice Co. began manufacturing the stuff year-round in March 1887.

Wagon delivery soon became as common in Fort Worth as milk delivery, and some local companies sold both commodities.

Ice manufacturing caused a shift in many family practices. Household foods could be preserved for longer periods, although nowhere near today’s standards. Before refrigerators and iceboxes, all foods basically had to be consumed on the spot.

But ice was not a cheap product. In fact, it cost more than many meat and dairy products themselves.

The advent of the home refrigerator collapsed the ice industry. It is a good example of an industry that experienced massive growth and importance to the American economy, but eventually became a victim of technology and melted away.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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