I was talking to a woman with the surname “Kunkel” which reminded me of a familiar company of my childhood, Kunkel Ice & Coal, which led to thinking about ice & coal companies in general. There were a lot of them back in the days, but why the combination of ice and coal? What common trait brought these two, very different commodities together in one company?
I could find nothing on the Internet about them despite their past popularity. I think they were basically delivery companies who delivered ice in the summer and coal in the winter. They arose in a time before refrigeration when people kept their food cool in ice boxes and needed a block of ice delivered about once a week. I suspect in winter they just left items outside or made their own ice from a bucket of water and no longer needed ice delivered. But that is when they needed coal for heat. A company that delivered both had business all year around.
I posted a blog on the excitement of coal delivery on 12/13/2007, ‘Tis the Season—but not for Coal, and ice deliveries on 2/6/2006, Ocean City Memories. The only puzzle is that the trucks were very different. In my neighborhood, coal was delivered by large dump trucks, the ice by horse-drawn carts. Did they have two fleets? If you have any information, let me know and I’ll pass it on.