Posts Tagged ‘Reginald Marsh’

Frozen Custard from Photographs of New York by Reginald Marsh. ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976. Reginald Marsh. Courtesy

When Reginald Marsh photographed Coney Island as the subject for his artwork in the late 1930s and the ’40s, one could still buy frozen custard for a nickel. The dessert made its debut in 1919 when the Kohr brothers, Archie and Elton, opened a stand on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The nickel treat was a sensation, selling 18,460 cones on the first weekend! Kohr’s Frozen Custard is still in business on the Boardwalks at Seaside Heights and Casino Pier on the Jersey Shore. According to the history page of the company’s website, “After many experiments with the formula, Archie and Elton discovered that by adding eggs to the mix, they got a much more stiff, velvety and creamy product which would melt more slowly.”

Today, Coney Island’s ice cream offerings include Denny’s soft serve and Coney’s Cones gelato, but the frozen custard stands of yesteryear are long gone. You have to go to Shake Shack in Manhattan. Or all the way to Utah, where Coneys Custard and Gourmet Dogs won the “Best of State Award” last year. Their signature custard is named after the Cyclone roller coaster.

Like the Whip ride and the game of Fascination, frozen custard is another delight that first saw the light of day in Coney Island, but can’t be found here anymore. Last year, ATZ proclaimed “Bring Back the Whip!” This year we add: “Bring Back Fascination and Frozen Custard!”

UPDATE, January 30, 2012…

Comments on Facebook and twitter in response to this post have inspired this update: What’s the difference between soft serve and frozen custard?

Wikipedia says: “True frozen custard is a very dense dessert. Soft serve ice creams may have an overrun as large as 100%, meaning half of the final product is composed of air. Frozen custard, when made in a proper continuous freezer will have an overrun of 15-30% depending on the machine manufacturer. Air is not pumped into the mix, nor is it added as an “ingredient” but gets into the frozen state by the agitation of liquid similar to whisking a meringue. The high percentage of butterfat and egg yolk gives frozen custard a thick, creamy texture and a smoother consistency than ice cream. Frozen custard can be served at –8°C (18°F), warmer than the –12°C (10°F) at which ice cream is served, in order to make a soft serve product.”

According to FDA requirements, frozen custard must have at least 10 percent milkfat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids, but some brands have more. If it has fewer egg yolk solids, it is considered ice cream. Frozen custard has less fat and sugar than ice cream.

UPDATE January 4, 2014:

Rita’s Italian Ice, a national franchise whose tag line is “Ice, Custard and Happiness” will open a store on Surf Avenue at West 15th street in Coney Island.

Frozen Custard, Etching by Reginald Marsh. 1939. Photo via The Old Print Shop


Related posts on ATZ…

January 13, 2012: Rare & Vintage: Reginald Marsh Photos of Coney Island

November 29, 2011: Fascination: From Coney Island to Nantasket Beach

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round


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Thunderbolt Roller Coaster from Photographs of New York by Reginald Marsh. ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976. Reginald Marsh. Courtesy

Best known for his drawings and paintings of crowds at Coney Island’s beach, artist Reginald Marsh also took photos with a 35mm Leica beginning in 1938. These images from the 1930’s and ’40s by Marsh are from a portfolio of 50 photographs of New York City published in 1977, which is currently offered for sale. The limited edition of 25, plus four artist proof sets, were printed from the original negatives with the provision that the negatives could not be used for any further publication. “The sets are very rare,” photography dealer Jeffrey Kraus of Antique Photographics, told ATZ. “I sold one a number of years ago and this is the second set I am offering.” The portfolio is available for $6500.

Reginald Marsh

Beach Gymnasts from Photographs of New York by Reginald Marsh. ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976. Reginald Marsh. Courtesy

Coney Island was one of Reginald Marsh’s favorite places to sketch and photograph. On a hot summer’s day he’d take the subway from his studio high above Manhattan’s Union Square. “I like to go to Coney Island,” said Marsh, “because of the sea, the open air, and the crowds—crowds of people in all directions, in all positions, without clothing, moving—like the great compositions of Michelangelo and Rubens.”

Beauty Contest from Photographs of New York by Reginald Marsh. ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976. Reginald Marsh. Courtesy

Marsh was also drawn to the front of the shows, where people stood entranced by the talkers, and the whirl of rides like the carousel and the Virginia Reel, which also attracted onlookers. The Virginia Reel was invented by Henry Elmer Riehl, who named the ride after his daughter, Luna Virginia Riehl. Originally in Luna Park, it later operated at Bowery and West 12th Street as part of Kyrimes Park, where it shared a lot with such now vanished rides as the Gyro Globe, the Looper and the Whip.

Back in the day, there were more independently owned rides and attractions and all had their own distinctively-lettered, open-air ticket booths. The only ride in Coney Island that exists today with its original ticket booth is the Wonder Wheel. Like the Wheel, the ticket booth was built in 1920.

Virginia Reel from Photographs of New York by Reginald Marsh. ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976. Reginald Marsh. Courtesy

In an essay published with the portfolio, Norman Sasowsky, who worked as a curator/cataloguer for the Marsh estate, notes that the artist had a pass to Steeplechase Park given to him by park founder and operator George C Tilyou. Steeplechase’s carousel was a favorite subject. “Even though Marsh did not think of himself as a photographer–trying to make a photograph as an end in itself–he produced an exceptional array of photographic images. He selected unerringly the frame for the bit of reality he was about to record,” writes Sasowsky. “Marsh used his camera to photograph other events, such as family gatherings or friends, but his photographs of the places and people he used as themes for his paintings and prints are of special interest because of their intrinsic value and their relationship to his work.”


Carousel with Attendant from Photographs of New York by Reginald Marsh. ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976. Reginald Marsh. Courtesy


Related posts on ATZ…

October 2, 2011: Lucille Fornasieri Gold’s Coney Island Photos from the 1970s

July 13, 2011: Circus Portraits: Photography by Kevin C Downs

March 22, 2011: Rare & Vintage: Souvenir of Frank Bostock’s Coney Island

December 19, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Original Coney Island Motordrome Bike

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