General Question

Elfman's avatar

Why do people/restaurants put ice in water?

Asked by Elfman (449points) August 8th, 2007

Seems wasteful (energy for ice). Also, can't stand super cold drinking water.

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14 Answers

mdy's avatar

I guess it's a just a matter of preference.

I drink everything ice-cold myself. I actually have a tall glass of water with ice next to me as I'm typing this, so it makes perfect sense to me. 8-)

breedmitch's avatar

Ice in drinks (especially water) is an american convention. Funny story. I worked as a bartender in a restaurant under a, shall we say, dimwitted manager. Well the city was under a drought advisory and she suggested that we could save on water by putting more ice in the glasses. Too funny!!

zina's avatar

i agree with you (elfman). not to mention that it's worse for your health (especially if drunk while eating), and actually makes you *warmer*.

dantecesa's avatar

Most ice is also most unsanitary...

helena's avatar

This is a good question! Especially because I think I might have a hypothesis! Tell me what you think.

When I was on vacation in the Adirondack Mountains in New York I went to a mountain museum on a lake. The museum showed old photographs. In the winters, the owners cut big elongated cubes of ice and transported the blocks by horse through the snow to underground shelters near New York City for rich people to use in their ice boxes to keep their food cold. [Even less than 100 years ago, there were no refrigerators. It is hard to believe, isn't it?]

Ice was a status symbol. To have an ice box in your home, for restaurants to have ice in their drinks, this was a big deal! A lot of work went into getting ice into the ice box, and especially, it was prestigious to have ice during the summers. It came from the underground shelters. In the ugly New York summer heat, putting ice in a person's drink was an act of kindness! My guess is that this long time ago, ice caught on as a status symbol and it eventually trickled down into people's lives and became habitual.

What do you think? Do you like this idea?

flameboi's avatar

Hi elfman, since ancient times (medieval most likely) Ice was definitely a status symbol, a privilege only the kings had, having ice in your table was a way to show your wealth and how powerful you are, and the guests had obviously the same perception, in history there is a very interesting passage about this. During the crusades, when Jerusalem was under the control of Saaladin, King Richard I of England took his crusaders to a fierce battle known as the Battle of Arsuf in 1191, in which Saaladin was defeated, during the battle, it is said that king Richard lost his horse and Saaladin sent one of his to replace it and also sent fruit and snow/ice, (some historians differ but, ice is the most accepted) to keep his drinks cold, it was not an act of friendship, it was an act of power. So there is your answer about why we always find ice in our tables.

gailcalled's avatar

@Helena, I had a huge "camp" on Lake Placid for 20 years, about an hr from the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mt. There was an ice room w. walls about 1.5' thick off the kitchen. We also found the rusted two-person saw used to saw the ice out of the lake. We used the room for laundry. And I am old enough to remember ice being delivered in a hors e-drawn cart to my grandmother's house in the Bronx in the 1930's. As a treat, the driver would give me a chip to suck on.

gailcalled's avatar

I drink ice water always...more palatable, I find. Water comes from my well and is pure and clean.

helena's avatar


Gailcalled, that was the name of the lake! Blue Lake. Thank you. That is a beautiful corner of the world.

Have you written your memoirs?

gailcalled's avatar

Blue Mt. is a gorgeous corner of the world. The Adirondack Park is 6 million acres of protected wilderness, inside something called "the blue line." The Adirondack Mts. are included.. A wonderful spot except for the black flies, which are lethal.

No official memoirs yet. Maybe when there is six feet of snow here - south of Albany, NY, in rural dairy farm country.

c_harris08's avatar

why do people care about why people put ice in water?

peggylou's avatar

Because we are curious. And the answers provide wonderful knowledge from many interesting people!

helena's avatar

Yes! Do it!

dheart's avatar

Recently I’ve found myself asking for no ice in most of my drinks. Except for those awesome round-ish cubes that form a little doughnut hole in the middle as they melt. Those are cool because you can put your straw in the middle.

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