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Love ice cream? Then you are going to be pleased to hear that July is National Ice Cream month. The month-long homage to everyone's favorite dessert is not a ploy by corporations to sell more ice cream, but one put into effect by President Ronald Reagan.
Proclamation number 5129 that the former US leader signed in 1984 declared that July be celebrated as National Ice Cream month and the 15th, designated National Ice Cream Day (now celebrated the third Sunday of the month). The decree called upon the people of the United States to observe the events with "appropriate ceremonies and activities." This of course means freedom to eat copious amounts of ice cream!
As you go about performing your "civic duty" here is some fun trivia to keep you entertained.
- The first ice cream-like treat is believed to have been consumed by the Persians some 2,500 years ago. To keep cool during the sweltering summer months, residents treated themselves to a "sorbet" made by pouring grapefruit juice concentrate over snow that had been stored in cold underground chambers known as "yakhchals."
- When the "sorbet" recipe reached ancient Rome around 54 AD, it was an instant hit. According to popular folklore, Emperor Nero hired a special team to fetch snow from the nearby mountains and create the treat by mixing in nectar, fruit pulp, and honey.
- The first records of milk-based ice cream come from China's T'ang period. Similar to Emperor Nero, the founder of the dynasty, King T'ang of Shang, employed a special army of men to lug ice to help freeze a creamy mixture made using heated fermented milk, flour, and camphor.
- Though the US now has an entire month dedicated to ice cream, residents did not get their first taste until 1744, when the treat was served to VIP's by Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen.
- But the country has more than made up for all those lost years. Americans are today the world's largest consumers of ice cream. In 2013, residents spent over $13 billion on the dessert, and that number does not include restaurant sales. It is estimated that the average American eats 48 pints a year.
- California may be the biggest producer of ice cream in the country, but the biggest consumers on a per capita basis reside in Washington DC, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
- With unusual ice creams popping up every day, it should come as no surprise that there are now over 1,000 recorded flavors in the world. What is stunning, however, is adding strange ingredients to the frozen treat is not new. A cookbook penned in 1790 had recipes for Parmesan, ginger and even brown bread flavored ice cream!
- Though milk, cream, and sugar are certainly crucial for the delectable treat, the most important ingredient is air, without which ice cream be rock solid!
- As for the waffle cone that goes so well with ice cream? That was the genius invention of a New York ice cream vendor as a way to deter customers from walking away with his ice cream glasses.
Finally, according to experts it takes an average person fifty licks to eat a single scoop of ice cream. So be sure to count your licks and let us know if you are just "average" or "exceptional" when it comes to devouring the treat!