Iceboxes and refrigerators keep food cold and control the growth of harmful bacteria. Until the invention of refrigeration (ca. 1890), people who lived in cold climates would store certain kinds of food in ice or snow, or in an underground root cellar. Even well into the twentieth century, many homes had a cold storage room or a root cellar.
The iceman carried blocks of ice into customers' homes using these tongs. Depending on the size of the icebox, the blocks could weigh up to 23 kilograms (50 pounds).
Carrots stored in sphagnum moss in a root cellar, 1941
Iceboxes kept perishable foods — such as milk and butter — fresh. A block of ice placed in the top of the insulated box kept the contents cold.