Eskimo Pie is a brand name for a chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bar wrapped in foil, the first such dessert sold in the United States. It is now marketed by Nestlé, owners of Dreyer's of the Western United States, and Edy's of the Eastern United States. The product was introduced to New Zealand in 1955, and are produced by Tip Top who are now a subsidiary of Fonterra, the country's largest multinational company.
Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson, a schoolteacher and candy store owner, claimed to have received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920 in Onawa, Iowa, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar. After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention under the name "I-Scream Bars." In 1921, he filed for a patent, and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name "Eskimo Pie" , and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation. After patent 1,404,539 was issued on January 24, 1922, Nelson franchised the product, allowing ice cream manufacturers to produce them under that name. The patent, which applied to any type of frozen material covered with candy, was invalidated in 1929. One of the earliest advertisements for Eskimo Pies appeared in the November 3, 1921 issue of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Eskimo Pies Advertisement, November 3, 1921.
The abandoned Rosedale Dairy, Fort Dodge, Iowa, longtime manufacturer of Eskimo Pies.
Stover sold his share of the business. He then formed the well-known chocolate manufacturer Russell Stover Candies. Nelson became independently wealthy off the royalties from the sale of Eskimo Pies.
Nelson then sold his share of the business to the United States Foil Company, which made the Eskimo Pie wrappers. He retired at a young age, but reportedly out of boredom rejoined what was then called Reynolds Metals Company in 1935, inventing new methods of manufacturing and shipping Eskimo Pies and serving as an executive until his ultimate retirement in 1961.
In 1992, Nelson died at the age of 99. In that same year, Eskimo Pie Corporation was spun off from Reynolds in an initial public offering, as an alternative to an acquisition that Nestlé had proposed in 1991.
Eskimo Pie brand confectionery was sold by CoolBrands International, a Canadian company that acquired Eskimo Pie Corporation in 2000. On January 24, 2007, CoolBrands announced the sale of its Eskimo Pie and Chipwich brands to Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, an indirect subsidiary of Nestlé.