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What Is an Icebox Cake?

You may have forgotten this classic dessert existed
© Madeleinesteinbach/Dreamstime.com

Before modern technology like the refrigerator and freezer, many households had something called an icebox. It was a wooden box that was lined with tin or zinc, and a large block of ice was placed inside to keep food cold.

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In 1927, General Electric released a “Monitor Top” refrigerator. Soon, the ice boxes of old were replaced by the new electric refrigerator. Food lasted longer this way — without a melting block of ice in it. In order to promote this new kitchen appliance, companies would send out useful freezer recipes. Thus, the "icebox cake" was born.

It probably helped that this cake didn’t require any oven baking — something that requires time and heats up the house on already-hot summer days. The two main ingredients to a basic icebox cake are fresh whipped cream and wafer cookies. When the creamy cake sets overnight, the crispy cookies are transformed into moist bits that resemble cake.

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If this cake is one of those childhood desserts you forgot existed, now is the ideal time to make one. You can make them ahead of time in the morning before a barbecue or even the night before an afternoon brunch. If no-bake recipes are your go-to way to satisfy your sweet tooth, here are our best icebox, cheesecakes and other no-bake desserts to make this summer.