Ice Cream Museum
Commercial production of ice cream in Estonia began 80 years ago. Mr Evald Rooma, who was nicknamed “Uncle Eskimo” and the “Father of Estonian ice cream”, can probably be considered one of the first ice cream manufacturers in Estonia. Evald Rooma was born on 6 July 1911 in Tartu to a businessman’s family. He was educated at Tartu Commercial School and Gymnasium of Technology.
While working as a driver for his aunt’s successful family, whose house had ice cellars, Evald Rooma came up with an idea of starting to produce ice cream. The first trial batch was produced in 1932 and the first larger batch of ice cream was sent to the Tartu song festival. In 1932, Evald Rooma bought his first small manual Husqvarna machine for making ice cream. Initially, ice cream was only sold at church holidays, fairs, and various field exhibitions. As there were initially no refrigerators, the fledgling ice cream industry used ice standing in 3-4 metre piles in the yard under a half metre-thick sawdust layer. These piles of ice kept ice cream from melting even in summer. Ice cream was transported by horses in freeze boxes and later by cars. Ice creams were packaged in waffle-tubes which were first purchased from cafés, but later baked by the ice cream manufacturers themselves.
Mass production of ice cream began in 1934. In the same year, Evald Rooma founded his company, called “Eskimo”, which had its own advertisements and symbolism. The company also started to produce stick ice creams which were manually packaged in paper. As the volumes of ice cream production increased, special refrigerators were ordered from Finland which enabled the company to become the first to produce packaged ice cream in Estonia. The company produced popsicles, ice milk as well as classic dairy ice cream. It even tried to produce ice cream with a liqueur filling but this product, of course, only remained the private treat of manufacturers. Ice cream was produced until the end of the German occupation during World War Two.
In 1987, Evald Rooma, once again, founded another small business called ”Eskimo” at Jaani Street 12 in Elva, where ice cream was produced on the basis of his wartime recipes. This business operated until 2004.
Today, a great amount of the ice cream recipes of that time along with the historical equipment of the “Eskimo” company, have found their proper place in the Balbiino Ice Cream Museum.