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Born on April 16, 1808, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Augustus Jackson started working at the White House in Washington D.C. when he was just nine years old.

He worked as a chef there from 1817 until 1837, cooking for Presidents James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson. He also prepared formal meals at state dinners for dignitaries.

After 20 years at the White House, Jackson left Washington D.C. and went back to his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Face 2 Face Africa reports it was there where he opened his own catering and confectionery business and would acquire wealth by making ice cream.

Ice cream has been around since the 4th century B.C.E. originating from Persia (now modern Iran). And although Jackson did not invent ice cream, he became famous for his unique ice cream-making techniques and recipes.

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In making ice cream, one of his innovations was to add salt to the ice, mixing it with his new flavors and cream. 

The salt did not only make his delicious flavors taste better but also lowered the temperature of the ice cream, allowing it to be kept colder for a longer time. And this helped with packaging and shipping, according to BlackPast.

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Jackson’s accomplishments have been memorialized by singer Ellis Paul in an eponymous song:

Augustus Jackson was a free black man / A chef at the White House for the Madisons / He came to Philadelphia when they set him free / He started making ice cream on Goodwater Street / And the people came / Calling out his flavors by name

The technique of Augustus Jackson is still used today.

And while most early ice creams were frozen egg custards, Jackson developed a lighter kind of ice cream. Thanks to Jackson’s eggless recipe, many ice cream recipes now do not have eggs.

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Jackson’s ice cream business thrived. He packaged his ice cream in metal tins and sold them to ice cream parlors owned by other Black people in Philadelphia for $1 a quart.

Before Jackson started making ice cream, it was only the rich that could afford the delicacy.

But Jackson’s new technique helped reduce the cost of production, bringing the product to the masses.

By and by, he shared his ideas with five other Black ice cream parlor owners in Philadelphia.

They also started doing great with ice cream making into the 19th century but were forced out of business.

Photo via Random House Children’s Books.

Author Glenda Armand shared with Black Enterprise the inspiration and process behind her children’s book, “Ice Cream Man: How Augustus Jackson Made A Sweet Treat Better.”

Armand said in part, “He combined his creativity and love of ice cream with a fine business sense and became financially successful doing what he loved.”

Some say that he never patented his recipes and flavors, likely due to the historic racial animus and roadblocks built by Whites to block entrepreneurial Black people from advancement.

After his death, his daughter took over the ice cream business but struggled to maintain it according to Face 2 Face Africa.

Augustus Jackson passed away on January 11, 1852. He was 43.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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