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Classic Covers: We All Scream for Ice Cream!

There is a bit of controversy as to when the ice cream soda first appeared, apparently in the 1870s, and who gets credit for it. However, there’s no dispute that the bevy of lovely ladies enjoying drinks at a soda fountain by artist Clarence F. Underwood appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on July 27, 1912.

Under the cuter-than-the-law-should allow category, a small boy and girl at the soda fountain on the June 6, 1936, cover face a predicament: He can’t find his money. Look at his face, and tell us you don’t want to pinch his cheek.

Rockwell’s teenage soda jerk seems much more interested in the female customers than in serving up ice cream, but definitely more interested in the ice cream than the girl is the black and white dog intently watching the melting ice cream illustrated by Ellen Pyle on the August 12, 1922, cover.

Cover artists were apparently fond of melting ice cream, as we see in two covers: Rockwell’s boy of July 13, 1940, and Stevan Dohanos’ girl with two hands full of cones on the July 29, 1944, cover. The unspoken question is clear: Will they make it back to the others before it all liquefies? A sticky situation.

Even policemen like ice cream. The all-too-human cop on the September 22, 1951, cover said his wife got after him for his candy and ice cream addictions, going so far as to claim his belt was slipping under his stomach. Nonsense, of course. “It doesn’t,” the officer explained, “I just wear it loose to have my muscles free and unhindered.” We won’t argue. But the officer told cover artist Dohanos, “Well, buy me a cone, and I’ll pose, but if my wife hears about this, I suppose I’ll get Hail Columbia.” A Post artist would never wish to be the source of marital conflict. Perhaps that’s why Dohanos painted dark glasses on the cop.

More controversial than when the ice cream soda was invented is the sin of running out. Pity the lady dipping ice cream at a kids’ party on the June 27, 1953, cover. More children than ice cream? Perhaps the policeman’s chances with his wife fare better than the fearful scene that will soon unfold.

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  • Jesuit

    A magic window, allowing gleeful glimpses at lovely lost moments–too soon removed from America’s collective consciousness.

  • T Martin

    The cover of the girk holding the ice crean
    cones is my wife in front of Colgens drug
    store in Westport CT. done by a family friend
    Steve Dohenus (SP?)

  • Michael Elson

    What marvellous memories it is to see Norman Rockwells world class art work once more! I well remember getting the Saturday Evening Post here in Cape Town, South Africa in the 40′s and 50′s. And to think he produced those wonderful, everyday scenes every week too!!

    Thanks for the memories,..

    Best regards,
    Michael Elson