July 23, 2024

Black Entrepreneur History

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Alfred Lewis Cralle – Inventor of the Ice Cream Scoop

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived an African American man named Alfred L. Cralle who invented and patented the ice cream mold or disher, commonly known as the ice cream scoop, which is used globally as the best way to scoop ice cream so that it won’t get stuck on a regular old spoon.

Born in Lunenburg county of Kenbridge, Virginia on September 4, 1866, Alfred Lewis Cralle was the son of father Alfred Cralle and mother Martha A. Cralle. He was the second oldest of five siblings[1].

He was educated in his hometown and then went to Wayland seminary in Washington. From there he worked in carpentry, following in the footsteps of his father, and this is where he learned how things worked, honing his mechanical talents[2].

He later found himself in Pittsburg working at a drug store and at St. Charles hotel as a porter up until a great position opened at the Afro-American Financial, Accumulating, Merchandise and Business Association. It was here were he got a position as assistant manager until becoming general manager[2].

It is obvious that Alfred Lewis Cralle had not only mechanical skill but a great business mind as well. Being around many people and customers in the field of business that he worked, he noticed the issues customers and employees had, but something obviously stuck out to him like a sore thumb. It was the method in which to get ice cream. It wasn’t effective lifting it out with a regular spoon. This led to his remarkable invention.

Alfred L. Cralle Invents the Ice Cream Scoop!

Patent #576,395 | Ice Cream Mold and Disher | February 2, 1897

On February 2nd, 1897, Cralle patented his invention, calling it the Ice Cream Mold and Disher, better known now as the Ice Cream Scoop. Needless to say, this invention was revolutionary, as it is a global phenomenon, being used in every single ice cream shop known to mankind.

One of Cralle’s reasons for inventing the ice cream scoop was so that it could be used with one hand conveniently instead of the ice cream getting stuck on the spoon. It could be scooped, and with the same hand, released easily because the cutters or blades will loosen the ice cream from the scooper.

Alfred Lewis Cralle’s Death

Alfred L. Cralle passed away on May 6, 1919 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Kenbridge, Virginia, the place of his birth. He passed away of pulmonary tuberculosis[3] at his home at two o’clock in the morning, located at 168 Mayflower Street, East End, leaving behind his wife Elizabeth L. Cralle and children. His funeral was held at Carson Street Baptist Church, the church to which he was a member. Cralle was also a member of the Golden Seal Lodge #69, Free and Accepted Masons[4].


  1. Year: 1880; Census Place: Browns Store, Lunenburg, Virginia; Roll: 1376; Page: 216B; Enumeration District: 134
  2. The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)14 Feb 1897, Sun Page 10
  3. Pennsylvania, U.S., Death Certificates, 1906-1968
  4. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)09 May 1919, Fri Page 15
  5. Photo is public domain