Back in 1921, a Midwestern businessman, Russell Stover, took a pitch from a guy named Christian Nelson who had come came up with the then-novel idea of putting a stick in a brick of ice cream and dipping the ice cream in a layer of crunchy chocolate shell. Stover thought it was a fantastic idea – as long as he could call it “Eskimo Pie.” A patent was filed, and a business was born.
Although you might assume the business was the large-scale manufacturing of Eskimo Pies, that’s not actually how things got started. Rather, Stover and Nelson made money by licensing the patent to local ice cream companies to make their own Eskimo Pies, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Needless to say, Eskimo Pies were a huge hit. Unfortunately, the patent did not adequately protect the business from copycats, leading to a mess of costly lawsuits, which led Stover to sell his share of the business in 1923, at which time Russell Stover and his wife, Clara and got busy making chocolate candy.