From the Back of the Drawer: Silverice

JUSTIN AVELLAR(this article was first published in October 2012)

with Stephanie Carter

The Silverice Balls would have fit right in behind the modern bar. Photo by SoFAB Staff.

Each week, we rummage through the dark corners of our kitchen drawers to bring you an enigmatic item. We ask you to guess what it is in our weekly From the From the Back of the Drawer puzzle. To enter this week’s puzzle, visit this page. To read more descriptions of past items, visit this page. And, don’t forget to donate your odd items to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

This week, we found Silverice!

Ice performs an important task – keeping a drink cold and enjoyable. However, it does this at a cost – diluting your perfect cocktail to a dreary, watery mess. Besides that, making ice cubes in trays, breaking them loose, refilling the trays, carrying it without spillage to the freezer irks just about everyone.

To combat this issue, Silverice arrived in the 1920s.  Instead of creating ice in pans that inventor William Glennan described as entailing “labor” and “danger of spilling water from the pan,” one simply puts Silverice, metal balls containing water or some “congealable substance” in the freezer.   Once the inside of the balls are frozen, they can be used to keep one’s drink cold and potent.  And the best part is that Silverice can be used repeatedly- unlike ice, which melts back into water.

It was marketed by Mary Ryan in 1929 as the “smart new icing convenience for the everyday hostess.” However, most people could not afford the $600-700 refrigerators with freezers in 1929, and the $5 item remained a very expensive novelty.  Five dollars in 1929 would be the equivalent of $66 today.  That’s a lot of bags of ice.

Our Rating: Save it! We’re guessing that you, unlike people in 1929, do have access to a freezer. Vintage cocktail items are hot and these will fit in perfectly at your next cocktail party without watering down that drink.
Design: Excellent! Pretty, modern, and practical.
Originality: Great! This was an original idea, so much so that it came before its time and ultimately failed.
Practicality: Amazing! You wouldn’t use these every day but they are extremely practical for a nightcap with friends. They accomplish the goal of making a cocktail kind of classy and interesting, while keeping it as flavorful as it was before you added the Silverice.


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