How can a food be fun and delicious at the same time? Colorful, alluring, and sweet as they come. You just can’t get enough of it. It is loved by all, not just because it is soothing, sweet and appealing to multiple senses, but because it is fun and exciting to eat. The amazing thing is that many of us have never bothered to find out how it evolved and why it has come to be an important part of our diet. In case you’re still wondering, I am talking about the much-loved dessert- Ice cream. What if there was no ice cream in the world? How would we spend that playful moment with loved ones or share some time with friends at the park? How would we wrap up a lovely lunch or spend summer afternoons? How would we satisfy that midnight craving that wakes us and takes us straight to the fridge?
Ice cream is more than food. It’s a companion; uplifts the spirit, helps your mood, and helps to build lasting relationships. Ever wondered why the heart skips anytime the lovely dessert is served? Whether it’s a scoop, a cone or a large one-litre bowl, it causes a mouth-watering sensation on the tongue and leaves us asking for more. Several flavors exist today ranging from vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate to the amazing Rocky Road. The excitement just never ends. Here are 25 amazing fun facts about ice cream that you probably didn’t know.
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The Ice Cream Culture has existed since the 5th Century BC
Although not the exact flavored creamy delicacy we enjoy today, but history tells us that ancient Greeks treated themselves to a dessert similar to Ice cream. It is on record that ancient Greeks ate snow mixed with honey and fruits in the market at Athens. Weird right? Exactly my thought.
In fact, it is said that in the 4th century BC, the legendary Alexander the Great enjoyed snow ice mixed with honey and nectar as a favorite treat. As humans learned to make artificial ice, and as further technological advancement led to the invention of the ice cream machine, life became better for lovers of ice cream.
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Arabian Innovators were the first to add Milk to “snow ice” Ice Cream in 900 AD
As the crushed snow ice continued to spread to other cultures including China and modern-day Iran, with each using different recipes such as fruit juices and purees to sweeten their own, other cultures were seeking ways to improve.
The Arabians were the first to add sweetened milk and actual sugar to the ice giving it a sweeter taste and a bulkier substance. This was when we had our first “iced cream” as we know it today, consisting of ice and cream (milk).
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Ice cream became a delicacy for the rich in the 1700s.
Due to the growing spread and popularity of ice cream globally, several recipes began to appear and documented in several languages too. Before long, it began to have an elitist status in America as newer and expensive recipes were introduced.
But that is not all. Ice cream was expensive to make. You needed ice. During this period, you had to carve ice from frozen lakes or haul it down icy mountains. You required laborers to do that. Then you needed to store the ice in ice houses (which had to be made). Also required was salt- plenty of it – and salt was a luxury at the time. In fact, people used to be paid wages with salt.
When all this cost is put together, we can understand why ice cream was expensive at the time. Thank God for freezers.
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The first Ice Cream Parlor Opens in America in 1776
The popularity of, and love for, ice cream became even more evident when the first ice cream shop opened in New York. Americans were beginning to get crazy about the cold sweet creamy ice. It is said that Thomas Jefferson’s favorite flavor was vanilla.
The only problem with ice cream back then was that it was more like sweetened ice cubes than cream because they didn’t have the technology to make “creamy” ice cream. For the first time in America, people would walk into the parlor and order a tin of ice cream. Yes, a tin, not a scoop, not a bowl.
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In 1843, the first Ice Cream Machine was invented
Due to the absence of refrigerators and freezers at the time, ice cream makers needed to find a way to freeze the cream (ice cream mixture). What they did was to put the mixture in tins which were placed in pots filled with ice and salt.
Because salty water takes a lot longer to freeze, it allowed the ice to last longer in the pot without melting out completely. This sustains its impact on the inside of the tins and freezes the ice cream mixture. The only problem was that it took so long to make, about four hours.
It was in 1843 that the first machine-made ice-cream was served. The machine was a large bucket/gallon that had an interior canister for the mixture and a crank to stir things up. The idea was similar to the pot, ice and salt system, but had a larger capacity, required someone to turn the crank, and produced less chunky ice.
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The Crunchy Waffle Cone made its debut in 1904
That edible cone that many of us still relish today actually made its debut more than a century ago at the World’s Fair in St. Louis. Let’s admit it; there is a lot less waste in the world. The fact that you can eat your ice cream carrier just makes the world a better place. Plus, it even makes ice cream a complete meal (snack and cream).
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Ice Cream on a Stick was introduced in the 1900s
There is a fictitious account of how eleven-year-old Frank Epperson made the world’s first Popsicle. The young Epperson wanted to make his own homemade soft drink. He poured the necessary ingredients into a cup, stuck a wooden stick into it to stir the mixture, but then left the mixture out in the garden and went to sleep.
It was a cold night. So the little boy woke up the next morning and found his mixture frozen. Being a kid, he simply turned the cup upside down and hit the cup until the object popped out.
He held it by the stick and licked his invention. This was much the same way the first Ice cream on a stick was made. Harry Burt had the help of his kids, Ruth Burt and Harry Burt Jnr to find out how people could enjoy ice cream bars without soiling their hands. Together, they made the world’s first ice cream bars on a stick, much to the excitement of ice cream lovers.
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July is National Ice Cream Month!
In his recognition of the fun and nutritional values of ice cream, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed that July would be the National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July would be the National Ice Cream day. He went as far as urging Americans to observe these days with proper ceremonies.
Not long after, the International Ice Cream Association (IICA) called on makers and retailers of ice cream to observe the month of July as the International Month of Ice Cream. Till date, a day is still set aside for the month of July to recognize this nourishing global staple.
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Ice cream is the second best-selling treat in the US
Apart from cookies, ice cream is the most sought after treat in America with a consumption figure of over 90% of the country’s population. Whether as a dessert after a nice meal, a treat for a lover, or a simple hang out with friends, ice cream always does the magic.
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87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezers at any given time
Now isn’t this amazing? It means that about nine out of 10 houses in the US have ice cream in their freezers. There’s no need to worry then. The next time you have a craving, just walk into your neighbor’s home and be sure to find ice cream.
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One Cow= two Gallons of ice cream per day
A cow produces about six gallons of milk daily, the amount needed to make two gallons of ice cream daily and 730 gallons of ice cream annually. You should also know that 9% of all milk produced in the United States goes into ice cream production. So the next time you think about beef, think about how much ice cream you’re willing to sacrifice.
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The Brain freezes when Ice cream touches the roof of your mouth
This is not a joke. The brain actually freezes when cold ice touches the roof of your mouth because it causes dilation of blood vessels. But do not worry. No one has ever died by taking ice cream.
Known scientifically as sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia or simply as the Ice cream headache, it occurs during the consumption of ice cream, especially when done quickly, and comes as a brief headache.
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The Sunday Sundaes
Did you know that eating ice cream on Sunday used to be illegal in the United States? Well, now you do. Religious folks thought it was sinful to eat a dish made solely of ice cream. It’s all a legend anyway. The story goes that since selling ice cream on Sunday was illegal, vendors would sell sundaes instead.
The vendors felt the law was killing their businesses and had to find a way to circumvent it. That simple but smart move marked the beginning of an ice cream tradition that has lived for generations and will continue to do so. Amazingly, Sundays have been observed to record more sales of Ice cream than any other day of the week.
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End of World War II was celebrated by eating Ice cream
The American government placed so much value on this summer treat as a comfort food that its War Department listed ice cream as one of six items needed for sustaining the morale of the troop.
In fact, a Navy ship, the Ice cream Barge, was built for the sole purpose of making about 1,500 gallons of ice cream per hour and delivering same to the troops at war. What better to celebrate with when the war finally ended?
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You need about 50 licks to finish a Single Scoop Ice Cream Cone
Maybe the next time you buy a scoop, you’ll want to count how many licks it takes to finish it. What better way to enjoy the amazing feel of the world’s most amazing dessert than to actually lick it, slowly but impatiently, until the last drop?
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One in Ten People Lick the Bowl Clean after eating Ice Cream
I totally can relate. Guilty as charged. So you can too? How can you blame the millions of people who just can’t have enough or who love their treat so much they wouldn’t see any part of it go to the trash? Some people even say the part you lick off the bowl is the sweetest part of the lot.
Interestingly too, as much as we profess love for our pets, we just do not want to share our ice cream with them. Statistics show that only one in five people actually share with their pet.
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Madagascar and Indonesia produce most of the Vanilla used to make Ice Cream
It is no news that Africa and Asia are the world leaders in the production of natural and synthetic vanilla. Since the beginning of the 20th century, vanilla production has taken an upward tilt due to the increasing demand, especially by ice cream producers.
Indonesia is the current global leader in vanilla production with 3,200 tons produced last year alone. Madagascar follows closely with 3,100 tons the same year. Together, both nations account for up to 83% of global vanilla production. Lovers of vanilla flavored ice cream should definitely appreciate the efforts of these farmers for providing them with such lovely treat.
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The World’s Tallest Ice Cream Cone stood at 10 Feet 1.26”
It was the Norwegians that stole the show this time around and caught the attention of the world by making the tallest ice cream cone it has ever seen. Hennig Olsen Is AL and Trond L. Woien scooped the world record at Kristianland on July 26, 2015.
The giant cone, which weighed almost a ton, contained 1,080 liters of ice cream. With two scoops each, 10,800 people can partake in the treat. It also had 60 liters of chocolate and about 110kg of waffle biscuit.
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Most Scoops of Ice Cream on a Single Cone
It was Dimitri Panciera, an Italian that set the record for most scoops on a single cone with his gelato that had 121 individual scoops. This wasn’t a giant cone, but the small handheld waffle cone (3.74inches) that we’re used to. He made it happen at the Gelatimo Ice cream festival in Forno di Zoldo in Italy.
The accomplishment broke his previous record of 109 scoops on a single cone. This ice cream enthusiast also holds the record for the world’s largest scoop which stood at 6 feet and 4.7 inches long, 1 foot and 10.8 inches wide and 6.6 inches deep.
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California Produces the most ice cream in America
California produces more than a fifth of all ice cream in the United States. It could be because it is the most populous state in America, but its ice cream dominance is just too alarming. Perhaps Hollywood loves ice cream and ice cream makers have to keep up.
However, the most remarkable reason would be the large dairy industry in California, resulting from the massive dairy farms scattered across the state. It is the leading dairy state, with milk as its major farm product.
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The Irony of the Ice Cream Fat
We already know that it cannot be called ice cream if it doesn’t have at least 10% milk fat. However, there is an ice cream diet produced for weight loss. This means that people on a diet can still enjoy their favorite dessert while maintaining their nutritional routine.
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19% of Americans Eat Ice Cream in Bed
This is one of those naughty habits that people can’t just shake off. The thought of eating your yummy-flavored ice cream while watching an interesting television show is enough to send chills down your spine. It is super refreshing. This is why about a fifth of America’s population (more than 60 million people) eat ice cream in bed.
And that’s not all. 3% of Americans eat ice cream in the bathtub.
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Rupert Grint wanted to be an Ice Cream Man
The Harry Potter Superstar simply could not let go of his first ambition. He loved ice cream so much that he bought an ice cream truck with the money he earned from the Harry Potter movies.
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Ice Cream Taste-Tester, John Harrison, has his Tongue insured for $1 million
Ice cream taste-testing is serious business in many parts of the world. The American, John Harrison dubbed “the man with the million-dollar taste bud”, had to have his most valued asset, his tongue, insured for a staggering $1 million.
It is also a fact that professional ice cream taste testers use gold spoons to avoid after-taste from typical spoons interfering with the whole taste of the ice cream.
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Raw Horse Flesh is a Japanese Ice Cream Flavor
This makes the list of the world’s strangest ice creams. But we all know the Japanese are very adventurous, especially when it comes to food. And yes! The Japanese do eat raw horse-flesh.
There are many more fun facts about ice cream out there, but these have been put together to give you an idea of the rich history and culture, including the dynamic nature and excitement that ice cream offers.
Camille has a master's degree from Saint Joseph University's Writing Studies program. Her writing has been published on several websites, and she enjoys writing articles and short stories in her spare time. You can follow Camille on Twitter @CamealAshley.