Posted by Turkey Hill Team on June 4th, 2008

The following question was submitted by Stan L. from Philadelphia.

A tour guide in Philly told my daughter that Ben Franklin’s favorite flavor of ice cream was tomato.  When she shared this with her 2nd grade class, the teacher challenged it.  Is there proof of this anywhere?

Thanks for your question, Stan. Personally I’ve never heard that one, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

We do know that Mr. Franklin was a big fan of ice cream (along with Thomas Jefferson and George Washington) and that he was a regular at French ice cream shops in New York City and anywhere else that sold it. In the 1770’s, he got his first taste of ice cream in Paris and was so pleased with the experience that he wrote in a letter “I am making an effort to acquire the formula so we may sample this lovely fare upon my return to Philadelphia.” This tale led to Franklin being credited with introducing ice cream to the colonial states, but no one’s really 100 percent sure about that.

It was also rumored that during the blistering hot summer of the 1786 Constitutional Convention, Franklin created an ice cream recipe and invited Congressional delegates back to his home “for a special treat that was universally popular and helped steer them toward the democracy we know today.” Unfortunately that tale has since been disproved, but it sounds nice!

As for his love of tomato ice cream, an Internet search reveals no clues to this mystery. We’re not even sure if tomato ice cream existed in Ben’s day, but we do know that tomato ice cream exists today (here’s a recipe). Either way, I’m willing to bet Ben would have  liked it.

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  1. Artemis says:

    I would without a dout try this icecream flavor since we eat cheese an tomatoes on pizza an other dishes I think this would really be a yummy flavor!!

  2. Paula says:

    A scope of tomato ice cream or tomato sherbet on lettuce would be the start of a a really cool salad for a hot summer meal. What would the dressing be? Frence Russian or Italian? Or is there an American dressing for this unique dish?

  3. Stefanie Schmidt says:

    I could imagine someone somewhere eating this flavor. Some states sell lobster ice cream and others have beer flavored ice cream, so maybe someone really likes tomatoes.

  4. Sue says:

    I guess I”m not as adventurous as the others,, I think ice cream flavors should stick with fruits, nuts and other “sweet” things. Keep the veggies for the salads

  5. Donna says:

    Tomato ice cream?!?! Please tell me Turkey Hill isn’t going to make this flavor. I do not think I want to try it let alone buy it. Well, maybe a free taste test. It would be unique.

  6. brenda says:

    I never heard of tomtoe ice cream. Where can I buy it.
    How does it taste? I like turkey hill ice cream. (ALL OF THEIR ICE CREAM)

  7. mary frey says:


  8. Caroline says:

    I remember reading that at one time people thought tomatoes were poisonous. I do not know when that changed. It could have been before the 1770’s but then it also could have been in the 1800’s. If the 1800’s then no way good old Ben would eat tomato ice cream. Someone out there would know when it was proven safe to eat so I hope they will respond. Poisonous or not my hubby & I will not be buying it.

  9. Dani says:

    hmmm… I like tomatoes, and I like fruity ice creams, but this one, er… Well, I’ll try anything once! Bring it on!

  10. Margaret M says:

    My first thought was no way but the more I think about it maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. I love cold tomato juice…gives a whole new meaning to BLT’s, open-faced of course. There’s a new flavor for you Turkey Hill.

  11. Ann says:

    I do not believe that I would try tomato ice cream. I have to say that I have eaten tomato soup made with milk, and perhaps tomato ice cream would taste similar to that; only cold and creamier. I would make someone else in my family try it first, then if they appeared to like it I would give it a try. If anyone follows the receipe and tries the tomato ice cream let me know what you think of it!

  12. alicelynne says:

    Thanks for the research, Ernie…think I’ll stick to the regulars!!!

  13. Maryann says:

    I love most flavors of ice cream, but I don’t think tomatoe ice cream sounds appetizing. I bet I would try it though!

  14. Iee carr says:

    I need to get the ingredients for this tomato ice cream, it sounds super.

  15. Pat says:

    I think I will stick with Moose Tracks. But, thanks for all the interesting facts. :)

  16. Don says:

    There is a dairy in Fredonia, NY, by the name of Aldrich’s Dairy, that makes an unusual flavor of ice cream every April 1st for April Fool’s Day. Possibly, they might have made tomato ice cream. They have had some really strange sounding flavors in the past, so anything is possible.

  17. Rosemary says:

    Yuk! Tomato ice cream??!! I don’t think so, but I’m sure its good for you and a good way to get your veggies in.

  18. EDDY says:


  19. Kelly D says:

    No No Leave that flavor for other dishes, not ice cream, what are people thinking!

  20. Carlos Robles says:

    Please help Me! My favorite Ice Cream is Turkey Hill Tastey Kake Peanut Butter Tandy Kake – I can only find it in pints – where can I get the 1/2 Gallon?

  21. edward jurewicz says:

    turkey hill products are the best. as a diebetic i love the light or sugarless ice cream. the decafe ice tea is my favorite.please keep up the excelent work.

  22. Linda Vollmerhausen says:

    I do remember a storyteller in Philly telling us that Ben Franklin loved ice cream,but I don’t remember anything about tomato ice cream. While it makes for interesting reading, I think I’ll stick to the regular flavors, thanks!

    By the way, Turkey Hill must be the most popular ice cream in my neighborhood, because when its on sale,you can never find your favorite flavors!

  23. Lori says:

    Cool story but I think I’ll stick to chunky or chippy chocolate flavors :-)

  24. Lori says:

    Cool story but I think I’ll stick to chocolate chunky or chippy flavors :-)

  25. Lori says:

    I’ve had garlic flavored ice cream. Maybe that would be better with chunks of tomatoes?

  26. Melissa says:

    At a tour of the Georgia capital, the tour guide tells us the first flavor of ice cream in the United States was tomato and that Ben Franklin brought it to the US.

  27. James Taylor says:

    Some years back, I read that tomato ice cream was the second most popular flavor after vanilla in the late 1800s. I vaguely remember reading it in an article about, of all things, Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral. (Tomato was his favorite flavor, if I recall.)

  28. Katherine says:

    Tomato is a Fruit, not a vegetable, Corn is a grain not a vegetable. Lord have mercy on the closed minded in the world. Tomatoes a a heap of sweet to them. I love a tomato cake, why wouldn’t I like tomato ice cream.

  29. Marbella says:

    Thank you Katherine! I cannot understand the close-mindedness of so many people. It’s true, tomato ice cream was second to Vanilla in the late 1800’s. With all of the fast food junk that people stuff into their mouths with ingredients they can’t even pronounce, what the heck is the big deal with Tomato Ice Cream?

  30. MarkD says:

    I was also told by a Philly tour guide about the early popularity of tomato ice cream; I believe it was as our trolley passed Bassett’s, one of the oldest establishments still selling ice cream today. The guide also repeated the myth that Augustus Jackson, a Philadelphia negro, “invented” ice cream.

    Tomato ice cream. It sounds WRONG, but who knows? Maybe it’s good.

  31. Savannah says:

    I heard from the lady near the horses around the Liberty Bell that the First “First” Lady invented tomato ice cream. I also read online that Augustus Jackson “invented ice cream recipes. So, there’s my reply!

  32. Shea says:

    When I was in fifth grade we learned in history that the first ice cream flavor invented was tomato. It was in our text book. That was many years ago but I still remember cuz it sounded so gross.

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