The Ice King

Spy Pond Ice Harvesting from a 1854 print.jpg
Spy Pond Ice Harvesting from a 1854 print” by from a print. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

The Ice King was the latest episode of my favourite podcast from Roman Mars of 99% Invisible, the thing I love most about their diverse episodes is there is always a lesson to take from it.

So Frederick Tudor, the aptly named ‘Ice King’, saw a gap in the market, this was in 1800’s long before refrigeration was invented. He realised that Massachusetts was sitting on a huge natural asset in winter, ice in ponds. He believed that he could make his fortune in exporting that ice to hotter locations or even within the US.

Many people simply laughed at his idea and ridiculed him. The critics said it would never work.

After his first shipment to Martinique had quite literally melted for his customers, as not surprisingly the local population were unfamiliar with the product, they wrapped it in blankets, took it home, only to discover the ice had gone!! He found many other challenges.

He stuck at it, in spite of debts, bankruptcy and debtor’s prison, to eventually make his Waldon Pond ice world famous, being served in India, to Queen Victoria, leading to Norwegian copycats!

He did eventually make it, he paid off his debts, bought himself an estate and settled for peaceful rural lifestyle that he had wanted.

The natural ice trade melted away evenutally (awful pun) as fridges came along and the growing population in North East US led to the lakes being polluted by sewage. Brings a whole new dimension to on the rocks.

Three lessons here, one, never give up on your dreams. Two, never listen to the critics, as they are not the ones in the ring daring to be great (Brene Brown’s great work). Finally, don’t wait to create your ideas, as like anything, something/someone will come along and you will have missed your chance to be different.

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