Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson, a schoolteacher and candy store owner, claimed to have received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920 (in Onawa, Iowa, USA) when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar. After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention under the name "I-Scream Bars." In 1921, he filed for a patent, and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name "Eskimo Pie" (a name suggested by Mrs. Stover), and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation. After patent 1,404,539 was issued on January 24, 1922, Nelson franchised the product, allowing ice cream manufacturers to produce them under that name. The patent, which applied to any type of frozen material covered with candy, was invalidated in 1929.
Nelson then sold his share of the business to the United States Foil Company, which made the Eskimo Pie wrappers. He retired at a young age, but reportedly out of boredom rejoined what was then called Reynolds Metals Company (now part of Alcoa) in 1935, inventing new methods of manufacturing and shipping Eskimo Pies and serving as an executive until his ultimate retirement in 1961.
In 1992, Nelson died at the age of 99. In that same year, Eskimo Pie Corporation was spun off from Reynolds in an initial public offering, as an alternative to an acquisition that Nestlé had proposed in 1991.
Eskimo Pie brand confectionery was until recently sold by CoolBrands International, a Canadian company that acquired Eskimo Pie Corporation in 2000. On January 24, 2007, CoolBrands announced the sale of its Eskimo Pie and Chipwich brands to Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, an indirect subsidiary of Nestlé.