July is National Ice Cream Month. Who doesn’t like an occasional double dip cone or sundae when the summer temperatures are soaring? Here are some interesting facts about ice cream to get the brain unfreezing from that too cold bite.
The origins of ice cream can be traced back to at least the 4th century B.C. Early references include the Roman emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68) who ordered ice to be brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings, and King Tang (A.D. 618-97) of Shang, China who had a method of creating ice and milk concoctions. Ice cream was likely brought from China back to Europe. Over time, recipes for ices, sherbets, and milk ices evolved and served in the fashionable Italian and French royal courts.
After the dessert was imported to the United States, it was served by several famous Americans. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson served it to their guests. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, ice cream was a rather expensive dessert. President Washington is rumored to have once spent $700 on the delicacy in New York City over the course of one summer. Sharing her husband’s zeal, Martha acquired a “cream machine for ice” in 1784.
Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia patented a hand-cranked device in 1843, revolutionizing the distribution and sale of ice cream throughout the United States and Canada. Whoever invented the method of using ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of ice cream ingredients during its making provided a major breakthrough in ice cream technology. Also important was the invention of the wooden bucket freezer with rotary paddles improved ice cream’s manufacture. Around 1926, the first commercially successful continuous process freezer for ice cream was invented by Clarence Vogt.
Today home ice cream machines come in a wide variety of styles and price ranges and can whip up a tasty treat in half an hour.
While metallic and paper cones had been used by ice-cream-eating Europeans for over a century, Syrian immigrant and waffle salesman Ernest Hamwi has generally been credited with inventing the first edible cone at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair when a nearby vendor ran out of serving dishes. The creation sparked a nationwide sensation.
Robert Green, a Philadelphian entrepreneur regularly mixed 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. One of the beverage’s biggest fans was none other than Will Rogers, who exclaimed after first tasting one, “You will think that you have died and gone to heaven!”
Ben & Jerry’s was originally going to be a bagel company. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield ended up changing their minds when they found out how much it would cost to get all the needed equipment for making bagels. Instead, in 1978, they both took a $5 correspondence course from Pennsylvania State University on ice cream making. They then took $12,000, $4000 of which was borrowed, and converted an old gas station in Burlington, Vermont into an ice cream parlor called Ben & Jerry’s Homemade.
In the ongoing quest for chemical-free, ethical eats. PETA wanted human breast milk to replace cow’s milk in ice cream. In a letter to Ben & Jerry’s owners in 2008, PETA urges Ben & Jerry to “do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk”.
Japan tops the list for weird flavored ice cream. Offerings for sale in the island nation include octopus and ox tongue. Other tempting tastes are fish, sweet potato, squid, fried eggplant, crab, corn, wasabi, shrimp, eel, chicken wing, cactus, goat, whale, raw horseflesh, shark, oyster, seaweed, and lettuce and potato. Looks like there’s something for everyone.
New Zealand cone lickers are second only to the US in the amount of ice cream eaten. Other top 10 countries are Denmark, Australia, Belgium/Luxembourg, Sweden,, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
In 2012, Long Beach California residents eat ice cream 268 percent more than the average American.” Fort Worth and Dallas also scored well above average when it comes to devouring ice cream.
Ice cream truck jingles can be annoying and many truck drivers use nontraditional tunes to entice shoppers. Car horns, whistles, “Hello!” blare through speakers along with “O Tannenbaum”, “Joy to the World”, La Cucaracha,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.”, and “Turkey in the Straw.” In some places the music has been played so loud that towns have passed noise restriction laws forcing trucks to turn down the volume.
No matter what your favorite flavor is, enjoy some ice cream this month.
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