"Ice Cream" is about a mid-19th century African American woman named Sarah Estell
. She owned an ice cream shop in Nashville, Tennessee (every song on Tiny Televisions
is about Nashville history), from the 1840s to around 1860. She was very popular in town and catered many large events held by prominent people. She's also suspected to have legally owned her husband, who was also an African American in the time of slavery. Granville Automatic came by this historical tidbit by way of a professional historian they were friends with. The guess is that Estell bought her husband so that no one else could do so, but this is conjecture by Elizabeth Elkins
of Granville Automatic. No one is exactly sure why the story played out the way it did, as that tale has been lost to history.
With the "Ice Cream," Elkins and Vanessa Olivarez (the two women that are Granville Automatic), wanted to capture the sad paradox of Estell's story. All the while that the white Nashville residents were using her catering services, they were all playing part in the horror that was slavery, so much so that Estell was living among them with the terrible burden of having to "own" her husband in order to protect him.