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Think You Know Ice Cream? Think Again!

Custom frozen yogurt cups

We all know how it goes. You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream. It is creamy. It is tasty. It is delightful.

It also has an interesting past that many people are not aware of. A long time ago, before the modern refrigerators and freezers we have today, leaders in China and the Middle East would entertain their guests with ice that they flavored with fruit and juice. The recipe changed over the years until something close to what we call “ice cream” was developed in Italy, though it was called (and is called) “gelato.”

Today, it has been estimated that about 40% of all Americans eat some kind of ice cream in every two week period of time. The typical person the the United States will indulge about 28.5 times every year. Across the country, more than 9% of all milk produced goes towards making ice cream. Every year, Americans eat 1.5 billion gallons of frozen desserts. Here are some other fun facts about the tasty treat:

  1. The treat dates back to 1665. That is the date of the first written recipe for the delight. It is credited to Lady Anne Fanshawe. She used different ingredients than we use today. Her concoction included mace, orange water flowers and something called “ambergris.” That seems to be some kind of vomit from sperm whales.
  2. Vanilla is the most popular kind of ice cream sold today. The International Ice Cream Association reports that a full 28% of all of the dessert that is sold around the world is vanilla.
  3. Vanilla may be top dog today but it was not the first flavor to join the party. The first recipe for this flavor of the treat is from 1692, it was developed in Italy. Vanilla was a lot harder to come by back in the day. The original chocolate treat was from hot chocolate. It also included cinnamon and sometimes included chili powder.
  4. Ice cream spoons are not all the same. Professional tasters need their own spoons. They can use the same spoon to taste several samples. There is a special coating that allows them to go from one flavor or sample to the next without mixing the flavors.
  5. The flavors we like today differ from what people used to like. Today, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry top the favorites list but back in the day, they had more exotic tastes. Asparagus, parmesan and oyster were the rage several centuries ago in the United States colonial times.
  6. The name “Haagen Dazs” does not really mean anything at all. Two American entrepreneurs created the brand and wanted a more exotic name so they made that up. Reuben and Rose Mattus thought it made their product sound like it was Danish and would be enjoyed by the elite.
  7. Ben andamp; Jerry’s pioneered ice cream flavors. It should come as no surprise that they were the first company to bring the chocolate cookie dough flavor to the masses. They developed it for a mass market i 1991 in Vermont. Ben of Ben andamp; Jerry’s has no sense of smell so he likes to add texture to his food, this is why their flavors have so much added fun in them.
  8. Wonder how the pros get such good pics? It is hard to take pictures of something that is melting so in advertisements for the products, most often they use mashed potatoes that have been altered a bit to fill their role.
  9. Ever wonder how “Neapolitan” or “Spumoni” became a thing? For a long time, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla were the most popular flavors so manufacturers put them all together in the same box.
  10. Frozen treats make your head hurt because they work your nerves. Literally. The nerves in your mouth are not accustomed to such temperatures and it sends your brain a message that you are getting too cold, too fast. That is why warming the top of your mouth with your tongue gives you instant relief.

It is hard to imagine a more perfect way to spend a summer afternoon than with a bowl of ice cream. It can often be the perfect way to end a day at the beach or in the park spent with friends and family. It is sweet. It is fun.