Who wants ice cream? That question is usually answered by a unified chorus of “I do!” Well, now—the month of July—is the official time to indulge. Since 1984, the typically hot month has been National Ice Cream Month in the United States. To narrow it further, the third Sunday of the month is National Ice Cream Day. In 2018, that delicious day falls on July 15. So ready the bowls, spoons, and cones, and prepare to dig in.
Ice cream consists chiefly of cream, milk, sugar, and water. (It takes 12 pounds [5.4 kilograms] of milk to make 1 gallon [3.8 liters] of ice cream!) The ingredients are blended together and then rapidly heated and cooled to destroy harmful bacteria. Next, the mixture is further mixed to break up particles of fat and smoothen the product. The mixture is then cooled and stored to allow it to solidify. After chocolate, nuts, strawberries, or other tasty additions, the mixture is frozen and packaged as ice cream.
No one knows when ice cream was first made. In 1295, the Venetian trader Marco Polo returned to Europe from China and may have brought recipes for water ices. During the 1600's, Europeans used a combination of ice, snow, and a mineral called saltpeter to freeze mixtures of cream, fruit, and spices.
British colonists probably brought recipes for ice cream to America in the early 1700's. Ice cream became a popular luxury food, but almost all of it was made at home until 1851. That year, Jacob Fussell, a Baltimore, Maryland, milk dealer, established the first ice cream plant. Ice cream became a national favorite during the early 1900's after soda fountains introduced sodas, sundaes, and other new ways of serving it. Ice cream cones were first served at the 1904 world’s fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Ice cream bars appeared in 1921. Ice cream production increased greatly in the late 1940's. During the first decade of the 2000's, the United States produced about 1.4 billion gallons (5.3 billion liters) of ice cream yearly.
Ice cream is served in many parts of the world, but Americans eat more of it than do the people of any other country. Americans eat an average of about 23 quarts (21.8 liters) of ice cream annually.
Image 1: July is National Ice cream Month in the United States. Credit: © Elena Veselova, Shutterstock
Image 2: The ice cream process. Credit: WORLD BOOK diagram