The First Ice Cream Flavor Was A Sweet Combination Of Honey And Nectar

These days, there's no shortage of unique and inventive ice cream flavors. From classic favorites like cookies and cream and rocky road to the mysterious Superman flavor, a lot of work goes into developing recipes that will push the limits of ice cream while still delivering a delicious spoonful or lick. Of course, these adventurous flavors are modern inventions; back in the day, ice cream was usually flavored with ingredients that were readily available. In fact, one of the first ice cream flavors utilized natural sweeteners that have been around for millennia.

Alexander the Great, who lived over 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece, apparently liked to partake in an icy dessert that was flavored with honey and nectar. Honey has been consumed by humans for as long as we've been around, and it was an important part of many ancient cultures, including the Greeks and the Egyptians who used it to sweeten cakes that were then offered to the gods. Nectar, which is basically liquid sugar used by plants to entice pollinators, is also very sweet and has been used to enhance recipes for thousands of years.

Alexander's honey and nectar dessert was a godly treat

Honey wasn't just food for the Greek gods — it also served as a preservative for fruit, and was mixed with wine to create mead, which the Greeks referred to as the "nectar of the gods." Honey was even used by the physician Hippocrates as a way to treat pain and other ailments. Given that many of Alexander the Great's followers viewed him as some sort of demi-god, it makes sense that all-important honey helped to flavor this legendary commander's dessert of choice.

The ice cream that Alexander snacked on was a far cry from the frozen treat we know today. The dessert enjoyed by the king of Macedonia was most likely a combination of snow and shaved ice, more similar to a snow cone. Cream wasn't officially introduced to ice until around the 1500s, when it was only available to royalty. A more accessible version of ice cream was developed in 1660, but during a time before refrigeration, it was definitely considered a luxury and generally only eaten by the elite.

Today, honey ice cream isn't too hard to find, though honey and nectar might prove a bit more elusive. While you're looking, you can try adding other ingredients to enhance your ice cream. Alexander the Great's favorite ice cream flavor does teach us one important thing: Even the most powerful people in history had a sweet tooth.