July is National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month is National Ice Cream Day. This year that day falls on Sunday, July 17.
Ice cream is a frozen dessert typically made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and it is often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavors. It can be made in many types – ordinary ice cream, frozen custard, frozen yogurt, reduced-fat ice cream, sherbet, gelato, sorbet and others.
It’s the most beloved dessert throughout the world. It’s one food item that we can eat even when we are full, which we often do. It not only refreshes us, but also brings a smile to our faces. Ice cream just “screams” fun!
Here are some fun facts about ice cream:
History of Ice Cream
1. It’s not really known who invented ice cream, but its origins are known to reach back as far as the 2nd century BC. However, no specific date of origin or inventor has been entirely credited with its discovery.
2. We know that an ice cream-like food was first eaten in China in 618-97 C.E. by King Tang of Shang.
3. While ice cream probably did originate in China, the ice cream that we know today was created in Italy, and is known as gelato.
4. Historians remember that Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) loved to eat snow flavored with nectar and honey.
5. In Ancient Rome, Emperor Nero is said to have loved lemon sorbet enriched with squashed raspberries and rose water.
6. It’s believed that in the 13th century, the Venetian explorer Marco Polo introduced Asian ice cream recipes in Europe after a trip to the Far East.
7. In 1565, an architect named Bernardo Buolantalenti invented a refrigeration technique that let Italians eat ice cream at any time. Buolantalenti made it possible for the royals to enjoy frozen drinks and ice shavings with noblemen. This became a common practice during special occasions and served as the star of Italy’s gelato culture.
8. The first ice cream dessert in Italy was invented during the 1600s.
9. President George Washington spent roughly $200 on ice cream throughout the summer of 1790. In today’s dollars that over $5,000.
10. In the 17th century, King Charles I of England paid his chef £500 (500 pounds) a year to keep his ice cream recipe a secret.
11. In 1843, Nancy Johnson invented the ice cream making machine. It was originally operated with a hand crank and revolutionzied the world of ice cream production.
12. The spreading of American-made ice cream for military troops during World War II was a moment when the entire would accept ice cream as a perfect summertime treat.
How it’s Made
13. It takes 12 gallons of milk to produce just 1 gallon of ice cream
14. Standard ice cream machines have 3 levers. Two for flavors and one for twisting.
15. Fat percentage in ice cream is regulated in the US. Regular ice cream has a maximum of 10% fat. Reduced-fat ice cream has 25% less fat than regular ice cream. Light ice cream has at the most 3 grams of fat per serving. Non-fat ice cream should have, at the most, .5 grams of fat per serving. Sherbet has 1-2% milk. Sorbet has no milk at all.
16. The major ingredient in ice cream is air. Air is added to ice cream to make it lighter and improve its texture. The amount of air added determines the quality of ice cream. In some cases, the more the air, the cheaper the ice cream in terms of money and quality.
17. Sugar in ice cream lowers its melting point and the fats are responsible for its creamy texture.
18. There are believed to be over 1,000 flavors of ice cream in the world
Vanilla Ice Cream
19. The most popular flavor in the world is vanilla.
20. Vanilla was a rare and exotic flavor in the late 1700s as vanilla was difficult to acquire before the mid-19th century.
21. Thomas Jefferson introduced the vanilla flavor to the US market after visiting France.
22. There’s a Hawaiian fruit that tastes exactly like vanilla ice cream which is called the “inga feuillei,” but locals call it the ice cream bean.
Chocolate Ice Cream
23. Chocolate was actually invented long before vanilla. The first documented recipe for it appeared in Italy in 1692. The dish was based on hot chocolate and was commonly mixed with spices like cinnamon and chili peppers, like what is known as “Mexican chocolate” today.
Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
24. Blue Bell and Dreyer’s/Edy’s both claim to have invented cookies & cream ice cream, and there is no substantial proof as to which brand was actually first. Either way, cookies & cream was an instant hit and became the fifth most popular flavor overall by 1983 only a few years after it hit the market. Though most ice cream brands sell the flavor, only Breyer’s, Good Humor and Klondike have the license to use actual Oreo cookies in their products. (Dreyer’s and Edy’s are the same brand, but Edy’s is known in the East and midwestern US and Dreyer’s is used in the West and Texas).
Neopolitan Ice Cream
25. The earliest version of neopolitan ice cream was made of green pistachio, white vanilla and red cherry ice cream to resemble the Italian flag. Nowadays, that combination of flavors is called ‘spumoni.” The flavor we now know today as neopolitan is made up of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry in the US because those were the three most popular flavors in the market.
26. Many flavors from the Colonial era are still around – vanilla, strawberry, pistachio, coffee. Sadly, or rather fortunately, flavors like oyster, parmesan and asparagus didn’t catch on.
Other Flavors – the Odd, the Unusual and the Disgusting
27. There are, and there have been, some really weird ice cream flavors over time. Such flavors as crocodile egg, breast milk, bacon, raw horse flesh, jellyfish, octopus, cow tongue, shrimp, avocado, garlic, chili, licorice, Stilton cheese, hot dog, and pizza.
28. Gourmet chefs have made alcohol-infused ice cream that contains vodka, whiskey, etc. There is a growing demand for alcohol-infused ice cream. This explains the rapid growth of the alcoholic ice cream market.
29. Caramelized brown bread-flavored ice cream can be found in Ireland. This was invented during hard economic times where the Irish folk were hesitant to throw away old bread. They found a way to fuse this with the frosty dessert which is now enjoyed by many.
30. Butter-flavored ice cream is sold by a chocolate emporium on Maine. This ice cream is served with chunks of lobster meat inside it.
31. Sunni Sky’s homemade ice cream (out of North Carolina) has two spicy hot flavors. Known as Cold Sweat and Exit Wound, both flavors are made with habanero peppers, Thai chile peppers, Pequin peppers, Ghost peppers, as well as different hot sauces. You have to sign a waiver to eat both of these flavors.
32. There are many toppings to put on ice cream – gummis, candy pieces (like Reese’s, M&M’s), fruit, and sprinkles, and others too numerous to mention. But the two most popular toppings are chocolate syrup and chocolate chips.
33. The approximate average number of licks it takes to finish a scoop of ice cream is 50 – less if you’re famished.
34. The US consumes the most ice cream, followed by Australia then Norway.
35. The average American eats 45.8 pints of ice cream a year.
36. Around 90% of Americans have ice cream in their freezers.
37. An ice creamery is a place where ice cream is made.
38. The average dairy cow produces enough milk in its lifetime to make 7.5 thousand gallons of ice cream.
39. Food photographers frequently use modified mashed potatoes as a stand-in for actual ice cream in photos.
40. Professional ice cream tasters take it very seriously when tasting a new flavor – they use golden spoons so the metal doesn’t impact the taste of the ice cream.
41. June is the month of the year when most ice cream is produced
42. It was once illegal to sell ice cream sodas on Sunday due to religious purposes. Shop owners invented the ice cream sundae to get around this law. They replaced the soda with syrup and replaced the “y” in Sunday with an “e.”
43. 9% of milk produced in the entire US is used to prepare ice cream.
44. Over 1.4 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts are produced in the US every year.
45. The ice cream industry is valued at $39 billion in America
46. Market analysts confirmed that ice cream sales increase many times during times of recession or wars.
47. In 1984, US President Ronald Reagan designated the month of July as National Ice Cream Month and also assigned the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day
The Dreaded Ice Cream Headache a.k.a. the Brain Freeze
48. At one time while eating ice cream you must have experienced a severe headache. This headache, or brain freeze, is the result of the cold ice cream touching the roof of your mouth and sending a message to your brain signaling a loss of body heat. As a result, the blood vessels in your brain contract and when they return to their normal size, the blood in your head rushes back. This is what causes the headache.
Cures for a Brain Freeze
49. As hard as it seems to do, if you just wait 30-60 seconds, the brain freeze will be over in no time, even though that 30-60 seconds feels like an eternity.
50. The best offensive is a good defense – try to avoid touching the ice cream to the roof of your mouth in the first place.
51. The first known ice cream recipe was handwritten in the recipe book of Lady Anne Fanshawe in 1665, and it was flavored with orange flower water, mace, or ambergis, an intestinal slurry puked up by sperm whales (yes, you read that right).
52. Ice cream is so awesome that there is even a proved ice cream diet. It’s supposed to be a way to lose weight without any side effects. Best. Diet. Ever.
53. The USS Lexington crew ate all the ice cream from the ship’s freezer when the ship was attacked. During World War II, the Japanese sunk the USS Lexington but the crew didn’t immediately abandon ship. They first broke into the freezer to eat all of the ice cream that was aboard the ship.
54. During war time, ice cream was heavily relied on by the military in place of liquor. The government also considered this an edible means of propaganda for the first half of the 20th century.
55. The end of World War II was celebrated by eating ice cream.
56. NASA once said that ice cream is one of the top 3 foods that astronauts miss the most.
57. The waffle cone was created at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis when Abe Doumar, a traveling salesman, encouraged an ice cream vendor to serve their ice cream on rolled waffles made by another nearby vendor when they ran out of paper dishes.
58. Hawaiian Punch was originally created and marketed as a syrup intended as an ice cream topping, but it became more popular mixed with water as a drink.
59. When it comes to the benefits of eating ice cream, one recent research study found that those who eat it in the morning remain more alert than those who don’t.
60. A man named Howard Johnson is credited for popularizing the phrase “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.”
Happy National Ice Cream Day!
*Photo courtesy of an unknown source