It is surprising for most people to learn that the modern trend toward lighter and healthier sorbet as a frozen dessert alternative actually has a history that pre-dates ice cream by a thousand years. Nero, the Roman Emperor, during the first century A.D. positioned runners along the Appian Way. They passed buckets of snow hand over hand from the mountains to his banquet hall where it was then mixed with honey and wine.
Asian culture also has a place in history for the first frozen desserts. At the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo returned from the Far East with recipes of concoctions made from snow, juice and fruit pulp. Frozen desserts are believed to have been brought to France in 1533 by Catherine de Medici when she left Italy to marry the Duke of Orleans, who later became Henry 2nd.
By the end of the 17th century, sorbet hit the streets of Paris and spread to England and the rest of Europe where they were enjoyed by commoners and courtiers alike. The French are responsible for the culinary tradition of using sorbet to cleanse the palate between courses.