July is National Ice Cream Month and this year National Ice Cream Day falls on this Sunday, July 16th. Keep in mind, this is not just another made-up day used as an excuse to treat yourself to one of America’s all-time favorite desserts. President Reagan actually made this an officially recognized day back in 1984 when he declared the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day. I’m told Reagan wanted to commemorate the treat enjoyed by over +90% of the US population, and the proclamation also garnered the dairy industry some great publicity.
No one can say for certain who actually created ice cream. But it has been said that ice cream-like food was first consumed in China sometime between 618-97 AD, with the first dish being made from flour, buffalo milk, and camphor (which is an organic compound commonly used in lotion). It’s also been noted that “Alexander the Great” adored ice and snow flavored with nectar and honey. And during the Roman Empire, Caesar would send people to gather snow from the mountains, just to cover it in fruit and juices. Marco Polo returned from the Far East bringing back a recipe for what we now know as sherbet, and it is assumed by most that this recipe developed into what we now know as ice cream. But it was in 1660 that the general public was presented with modern-day ice cream when an Italian man named Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli decided to perfect a machine made by his fisherman grandfather which produced top-quality gelato in his café. The recipe blended milk, butter, eggs, and cream and was sold in Paris.
Residents here in the U.S. wouldn’t taste their first bit of ice cream until 1744 when the Scotts brought an early recipe across the ocean, but the real reveal would appear in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, when they printed the first advertisement for ice cream. Following the American Revolution, ice cream would become a national favorite and has stayed an American tradition ever since.
Think about all of the birthday parties and childhood memories that so often involved ice cream. Weddings, anniversaries, graduations, etc… Let’s not forget chasing down the ice cream man or Dad taking the family to Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins for that special treat. Below are a few more fun facts about ice cream: (Source: Mashed.com, Nationalday.com, Mentalfloss, educationworld)
Martha Washington used to serve ice cream to her guests at Mount Vernon. Ice cream was a rather expensive dessert prior to refrigeration, and our nation’s first president is rumored to have once spent $700 on the delicacy in New York City over the course of one summer. Martha shared her husband’s passion for the cold dessert and acquired a “cream machine for ice” in 1784.
First Home Ice Cream Machine was invented in 1843 by Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia. This new machine would revolutionize the distribution and sale of ice cream throughout the United States and Canada.
Ice Cream Cones would be popularized at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. For nearly a century, Europeans would eat ice cream in metallic and paper cones, until Syrian immigrant and waffle salesman Ernest Hamwi, who has generally been credited with inventing the first edible ice cream cone, brought it to the fair. I’m told a nearby vendor ran out of serving dishes, and Ernest’s creation would spark a nationwide sensation. In 2012, the world’s largest ice cream cone was created, weighing in at 2204 pounds, was 13 feet tall, and was made in Gloucester, UK.
Ice Cream Floats were the fortunate creation of Philadelphia entrepreneur, Robert Green, who would regularly mix syrup and cream into his carbonated beverages in the last decades of the 1800s. Legend has it that on one fateful day, he ran out of these regular ingredients and used ice cream as a substitute, creating the first ice cream soda in the process. In the early days, one of the beverage’s biggest fans was none other than Will Rogers, who was quoted as saying, you will think that you have died and gone to heaven after enjoying a float.
Million-Dollar Insured Tongue – Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Inc. insured taste tester John Harrison’s tongue for a million dollars back in the 1990s. In case you’re wondering, the premiere taster would start with the white wines of ice cream, vanilla, French vanilla and work his way up to the Bordeaux of fudge, using lukewarm water or an unsalted cracker as a palate cleanser. I’m told of the 40 million gallons of ice cream produced by the company back then, about 100,000 gallons were rejected by Harrison.
U.S Ice Cream Facts – The U.S. leads the world in both production and consumption of ice cream with over 1.5 billion gallons made each year, and the average American consuming 48 pints! Interestingly, I’m told it takes about 50 licks to finish one scoop of ice cream, and yes Vanilla is still the number one flavor followed by Chocolate then Strawberry. In order to make one gallon of ice cream, you will need 12 pounds of milk and an average dairy cow can produce enough milk for about 9000 gallons of ice cream in its lifetime.