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Printer's Devil Ice Cream Story

Before the digital age, print shops were crowded, dirty places that relied on the labor of several professionals: pressmen, compositors, readers, and apprentices. As with most professions, the dirtiest, least desirable jobs fell to the youngest members of the staff.

Boys as young as 7 (but usually between ages 10 and 15) swept the floors, sorted the metal type, and cleaned the presses and equipment for the printers. The apprentices generally worked, ate, and slept in the shops, and their clothing, skin, and hair became stained with printer’s ink. These stained boys acquired a nickname: printer’s devils. In spite of this less-than-savory nick-name, printer’s apprentices were not just filthy errand boys. They were actually learning a trade that required a careful disposition, keen intelligence, and a high level of literacy. As one manual from 1836 spelled out, “It is of great advantage to a printer to have some knowledge of the arts and sciences, the Greek, the Latin, the French, and the Spanish languages. . . . But what is essential, nay, indispensable, to constitute a good printer, is a thorough knowledge of grammar” (quoted in Rummonds 2004, 118).

As a tribute to the apprentices who became printers, and the printers who laid the foundation for modern digital publishing, Printer’s Devil Ice Cream is stained dark with cocoa powder (which tastes considerably better than printer’s ink) and features a refined, smooth texture and delicious ribbons of fudgy chocolate. It’s the perfect companion for a long afternoon of editing texts for publication.

Submitted by Dr. Jacob Rawlins, Linguistics

History of Printer's Devil Ice Cream

Voiced by: Aunah Johnson

Interested in making it?

Go to recipe