July is National Ice Cream Month, as designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
And as if that weren’t enough of an excuse to down a whole pint of Chunky Monkey, National Ice Cream Day falls on the third Sunday each July. That makes it this coming Sunday, July 17.
So, to celebrate, here are some fun facts about ice cream.
Grab a spoon and dig in!
1. The average American eats about five and a half gallons of ice cream each year: While this number includes treats like single-serve novelties and soft-serve ice creams, it does not include other frozen desserts like yogurts or sherbets.
Americans eat more ice cream than any other country in the world, not just per person but as a whole. Around $1.5 billion of ice cream is produced annually in the U.S.
2. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, America’s top-five favorite ice cream flavors are:
- Cookie ‘n cream
- Chocolate Chip Mint
3. About 9 percent of all milk produced in America is used to make ice cream: It might not sound like much, but that’s a pretty staggering number when you consider that there’s more than 10 ways to use milk, and nearly one-tenth of the milk we produce is solely going toward creamy, delicious ice cream.
In fact, it is federal law that ice cream must contain at least 10 percent milk fat before bulky ingredients are added, like candy pieces, peanut butter or cookie chunks.
4. Ice cream is basically just milk and sugar: Of course it’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the nuts and bolts of it.
Modern ice cream makers add things like emulsifiers, preservatives and other ingredients that are hard to pronounce, but only in small doses. And then there are the complex machinery that mixe and aerate the ice cream.
Only then does the specific flavoring and ingredients that make each variety unique come into play.
But at its heart, ice cream is just milk and a whole lot of sugar.
5. No one knows who invented ice cream: No, it wasn’t sirs Ben and Jerry. The fact is, no single person is credited with inventing ice cream.
What we do know is thst when Marco Polo returned to Italy from an excursion in the 13th century, he brought with him an arcane recipe that resembled sherbet. It’s believed that ice cream evolved from this recipe, but no one knows for sure; England seems to have had ice cream around the same time as the Italians, and France had similar frozen desserts as early as the 16th century.
America has had ice cream for as long as there’s been an America. In fact, George Washington spent $200 each summer on ice cream (quite a sum in 1777), and Thomas Jefferson made his own ice cream using an elaborate 18-step recipe.