In 1984 summers got a little sweeter.
Then President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day. Reagan’s proclamation declared that all people of the United States observe the holiday with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
This year National Ice Cream Day falls on July 21, and while we don’t really need a special reminder to eat loads of ice cream, it sure is nice to have an excuse.
In celebration of this most important of food holidays, add an extra scoop to your cone and settle in for 25 tasty facts you never knew about ice cream.
1. About 87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezer right now
On any given day, it’s estimated, nearly 9 out of 10 Americans have a tub of ice cream in their freezer. What can we say? When you want it, you want it!
2. New Zealand is the only nation that consumes more ice cream than the U.S.
It’s true. The United States ranks second in the world for ice cream consumption. On average, Americans eat 5.5 gallons per capita per year, while Kiwis consumer 7.5 gallons per capita per year.
3. The waffle cone was an accident
It seems too tasty to be true, but the waffle cone was invented by accident. In 1904 in Missouri, an ice cream seller had to improvise after running out of ice cream cones. He asked a nearby waffle vendor to help make a container for his ice cream, and the rest is delicious history.
4. It’s all about the toppings
Of course, ice cream wouldn’t be nearly as fun without some toppings to add flavor and texture. So what’s our favorite topping? Sprinkles? Whipped cream? Nuts? Why, it’s none other than chocolate syrup.
5. All in the family
Ice cream parlours have been a key feature in American communities for decades. According to an International Dairy Foods Association survey, most ice cream companies are still family-owned and have been in operation more than 50 years.
6. The first American ice cream parlour is older than you think
If it doesn’t surprise you that the very first ice cream parlour opened in Paris in 1686, perhaps the fact that the first ice cream parlour in the United States opened in 1776 will.
7. George Washington had an addiction
The first president of the United States loved ice cream so much he spent about $200 on the frozen dairy product in one single summer — that’s more than $5,000 in today’s dollars.
8. Thomas Jefferson loved ice cream, too
While in France, Thomas Jefferson studied how to make ice cream. He returned to Monticello with a sorbetière, four ice cream molds, and a handwritten recipe for vanilla ice cream still available today thanks to the Library of Congress.
9. Ice cream and immigration
Immigrants that came through Ellis Island were fed ice cream as part of their first meal on American soil.
10. The U.S. Navy created a floating ice cream factory
In 1945, the Navy spent $1 million to convert a concrete barge into an ice cream factory that could be towed around the Pacific and deliver ice cream to ships incapable of producing their own. The ship churned out 10 gallons every seven minutes and could store more than 2,000 gallons of ice cream at a time.
11. Canadians like ice cream when it’s cold out
Canada likes to keep it cold. The snowy, Northern country is one f the only places that sells more ice cream during the winter months than in the summer.
12. The most important ice cream ingredient is air
Sure, cream and sugar are important too, but without air, you wouldn’t really have anything resembling ice cream at all. Air creates the volume and texture, both which alter the taste of the final product. Ice cream is usually made of about 30-50% air, so you would definitely take notice if air was absent.
13. Ice cream is big business
All those scoops add up. The ice cream industry churns more than $20 billion a year into the economy.
14. We’re nutty for pecans
Pecans are the most popular nut addition to ice cream — perhaps because of Butter Pecan?
15. And the most popular fruit topping…
If you guessed strawberries, you’re right! This makes sense considering strawberry ice cream is one of the top 3 most poplar flavors globally.
16. Sunday sees the most ice cream sales
Ice cream sales for the week are highest on Sundays. What better day to sit back and relax with your favorite cone before the long school or work week ahead?
17. The largest ice cream sundae was 24 tons
Feeling gluttonous over your third scoop? Consider the world’s largest ice cream sundae made in Edmonton, Alberta. It weighed a whopping 24 tons, or about the same as 20 mini coopers.
18. Vanilla is our favorite flavor
Vanilla might have the reputation as the ‘boring’ flavor, but it’s actually the most popular flavor in the United States and globally.
19. sourced vanilla beans
Most of the vanilla used to make ice cream worldwide comes from Madagascar and Indonesia.
20. It takes a lot of milk to make a gallon
Brands may differ, but in general, it takes about three gallons of milk to make one gallon of ice cream.
21. The average cone takes 50 licks to finish
Give it a try. It takes about 50 licks to finish of an average single scoop ice cream cone.
22. California is ice cream king
California produces more ice cream than any other state.
23. Cow contributions
A single cow gives enough milk to make 730 gallons of ice cream every year, but only about 9% of all milk produced in the U.S. is used to make ice cream.
24. The perfect scoop
Dairy experts agree, the perfect temperature for scooping ice cream is between 6º and 10ºF.
25. Every last drop
One in ten people admit to licking the bowl clean after eating ice cream.