“I SCREAM! YOU SCREAM! We all scream if we don’t get Piper’s ice cream!”
This advertisement, from May 1874 in the Puget Sound Dispatch, might be the first recorded version of the ever popular ice-cream lovers’ ditty. It was the brainchild of beloved Seattle confectioner, baker, ice-cream purveyor and socialist city council member Andrew W. Piper.
At age 19, the Bavarian-born Piper had joined the 1848 German revolution, an expression of social unrest sweeping Europe. After its defeat, he fled to the United States to avoid political persecution.
After 20 years in San Francisco, and seeking greener, less-populated pastures, Piper arrived in 1873 in Seattle, where he opened the Puget Sound Candy Manufactory, our region’s first candy shop. His large family, including wife Wilhelmina, three daughters and six sons, was welcomed by a community eager for sweets and treats.
Several years of bitterly cold winters provided more opportunities for the ambitious candy man. Hacking great blocks of ice from frozen Lake Union, Piper built the city’s first commercial icehouse. The summertime addition of ice cream to an already-booming confectionary and bakery business enhanced his profits and popularity. His capacious First Hill mansion and a Puget Sound shoreline homestead (today located in northwest Seattle’s Carkeek Park) confirmed his acumen.
The heavily accented Piper also was an artist. His sketches, paintings and sculptures were widely admired. In his spare time, he served as a scene painter for local theaters.
Our “Then” photo features a portrait of Piper in his prime. Posing with his 6-year-old son, Walter, and their dog, Jack, Piper pauses at the southeast corner of Front Street (today’s First Avenue) and Madison circa 1878.
Perched on the balcony of Maddock drugstore, the Peterson Brothers photographer also captured a view of Seattle’s first major public work, completed in 1877: the regrading of a stump-filled, uneven pathway into smoothly graded Front Street, elevated on timbers above the Elliott Bay tideline.
Piper’s businesses thrived until Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. His shop and the Manufactory, along with 25 downtown city blocks, were reduced to ashes. Piper did not reopen until two-and-a-half years later, in November 1891. Increasing competition and a fragile economy hobbled his prospects.
Upon his death in 1904, his close friend, journalist and historian Thomas Prosch, offered an affectionate eulogy. Piper was “invaluable … always able and never failed,” someone of great kindness whom “everybody regarded as a friend.”
Today, the eponymous Piper’s Creek, Piper Canyon and restored Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park mark the only extant namesakes of this pioneer. The orchard’s apples reportedly filled his scrumptious strudel.