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If the rising summer temperatures have you craving a scoop or two of ice cream, you are in luck: July happens to be National Ice Cream Month. The fun tradition was started in 1984 by former US president Ronald Reagan, in recognition of the treat's "nutritious and wholesome qualities." Proclamation 5219 urges citizens to observe the entire month, or at least the third Sunday of July — designated National Ice Cream Day — “with appropriate ceremonies and activities." As you go about performing your civic duty, here is some fun trivia about the delicious treat to keep you entertained.
The origin of ice cream
There is no specific date of origin, or inventor, that has been indisputably credited with the invention of the dessert. Some attribute it to the Persians, who made a sorbet-like treat by pouring grape juice concentrate over snow in 500 BC. The recipe is later believed to have evolved to include iced rose water, vermicelli, saffron, fruits, and other sweet flavors.
The first records of milk-based ice cream, made using heated fermented milk, flour, and camphor, come from China's Tang dynasty (618 – 907 AD). However, it is the Arabs who are credited with coming up with the modern-day recipe, which lists milk and sugar as the primary ingredients, in the 9th century. By the 10th century, the delicious treat, made using milk, cream, flavored rosewater, dried fruits, and nuts, was purportedly a fixture in Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo.
Ice cream in America
While the Europeans discovered the creamy treat in the 16th century, the first mention of the dessert in the US was not till 1744, when Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen served strawberry ice cream to guests. However, the nation has more than made up for the lost years. Americans are now the world's largest consumers of ice cream, eating an average of 48 pints per person and spending a total of $5.47 billion annually, on the dessert. The number is even higher if restaurant sales are included. Though California produces the most ice cream, the biggest fans, on a per capita basis, reside in Washington, DC, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
Most popular flavors
Though there are now over 1,000 recorded ice cream flavors worldwide, vanilla, followed by chocolate, tops the chart of favorites almost universally. Also, while adding unusual ingredients might seem to be a modern invention, the idea is not new. A cookbook penned in 1790 had recipes for Parmesan, ginger, and even brown bread flavored ice cream!
Your favorite flavor reflects your personality
While you may think your choice of ice cream flavor is just a function of your taste preferences, Dr. Alan Hirsch, founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, believes it is a reflection of your personality. Vanilla ice cream lovers will be pleased to know that they are "impulsive, risk-takers" who are great at relationships. Love chocolate ice cream? Then you are lively, charming, and a tad dramatic. Strawberry ice cream lovers are believed to be introverts, while mint chocolate chip ice cream fans are ambitious and argumentative. Surprisingly, those who enjoy the multi-colored rainbow sherbet are labeled as pessimists, while rocky road ice cream lovers are purportedly engaging speakers and good listeners.
Happy National Ice Cream Month!
Resources: Wikipedia.org, idfa.org, creamery.com