9th June 2020

Course: Simple Product Design

Product: Ice Cream Scoop

Task analysis has made us question about the product and the process of the ice cream scoop, but who came up with the idea of inventing it and why?

Prior to the invention of the ice cream scoop, employees had to use two spoons or ladles to scoop the ice cream and then transfer it from the spoon to the dish. This was a messy process that wasted the product.

In 1878, using a funnel- or cone-shaped device with a scraper inside, operated by turning a knob or a key located at the tip or the end of the cone, it was George William Clewell who technically moved people away from using two spoons for scooping ice cream and instead use a single utensil. One simply had to scoop the ice cream using the utensil, then turn the knob at the end of the cone to release the ice cream onto the serving container. There was one minor problem, though. You still had to use both hands to operate the utensil, one to hold the utensil and, one to turn the knob to scrape and release the ice cream.

1878 Tin Ice Cream “Conical Key Scoop”

19 years later, the above problem was solved when Alfred L. Cralle invented the ice cream scoop. The patent was received on February 2, 1897. The invention was originally called the “Ice Cream Mold and Disher.” The invention was important because it made serving ice cream easy without using two hands or two separate utensils.

Since the Mold and Disher was strong and durable, effective, and inexpensive, it could be constructed in almost any desired shape, such as a cone or a mound, with no delicate parts that could break or malfunction.

1897 Mechanical Lever-action ice cream scoop

So, how has this invention changed the world?

Although the invention was simple, it helped lead the Civil Rights Movement. Alfred is celebrated as one of the leading visionaries of African-American culture as he was one of the first African Americans to get a patent without a white partner.

Alfred didn’t become famous for inventing the ice cream scoop. The ice cream scoop was very popular, but it spread so quickly that not many people knew who the inventor was. The creation of the ice cream cone during the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, cemented the utility of the ice cream scoops that have made their way into our homes and kitchens.

1903 Square ice cream scoop


  • In 1903, square and rectangular scoops were designed to create the frozen portion of an ice cream sandwich.
  • Triangular scoops created a perfect shape for topping a slice of pie to be served a la mode.


1920s Oval ice cream scoop
  • In the 1920s, Gilchrist made an oval scoop that formed ice cream to fit between two bananas.


1925 Heart-shaped ice cream scoop and dish
  • In 1925, John Manos designed the heart-shaped scoops to create a small heart-shaped scoop of ice cream, which could be served in a matching heart-shaped dish.


1926 Cold Dog ice cream scoop
  • In 1926, Frederick W. Vollans patented a scoop that scooped up ice cream in the shape of a sausage to fit into a tubular wafer for what was known as a Cold Dog Ice Cream Scoop. In an age where the American hot dog was king, the Cold Dog ice cream cone became a popular treat.


The invention of ice cream scoops did not lead to any other inventions but there have been many innovations of the product. For example, the Belle-V has created an angled ice cream scoop that prevents from having to bending or snapping your wrist. Most innovations aim at improving the existing features of the product.

Prototypes showing the evolution of Belle-V ice cream scoop

Today, the lever design is still used, but other versions have come along to make it even easier to dip ice cream. Some modern versions include the mechanical scoop, which uses a bail to slide the ice cream out of the scoop when you press the lever. Another newer design is the warming scoop, which makes digging into this frozen dessert a cinch. Flat types, called ice cream spades, work well for soft ice cream. Most designs are made of stainless steel and some have an ergonomic handle to make scooping easier and less tiring on your hands.

Other ice cream scoop designs

The perfect temperature for scooping ice cream is between 6°F and 10°F.


Industrial Design Student, National Institute of Design, Andhra Pradesh