Let's All Scream For National Ice Cream Month!


Former US President Ronald Reagan proclaimed July National Ice Cream Month in 1984 (Credit: Pxhere/CC0)

Former US President Ronald Reagan's love for jelly beans, which were a staple offering during his 8-year-term in office, is well-documented. However, the country's 40th head of state also had another guilty pleasure — ice cream, which he described as "[a] nutritious and wholesome food." To give the delicious treat the respect it deserved, on July 9, 1984, Mr. Reagan signed Proclamation 5219, which declared July as National Ice Cream Month!

The decree 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." This, as you might have guessed, means consuming as much of the frozen dessert as you can. As you go about performing your civic duty, here is some fun ice cream trivia to keep you entertained.

The origin of ice cream

Ice cream used to be a treat for the elite in ancient times (Credit: Public Domain/commons.wikimedia.org)

There is no specific date of origin, or inventor, that has been indisputably credited with the dessert's creation. 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 inventing the modern-day recipe, which lists milk and sugar as the primary ingredients, in the 9th century. By the 10th century, the delicious concoction, made using milk, cream, flavored rosewater, dried fruits, and nuts, was purportedly a fixture in Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo.

Ice cream in America

A milkman named Jacob Fussell opened the first ice cream factory in America (Credit: National Photo Company Collection/preservationmaryland.org)

Though 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, it was difficult to make and store in the pre-refrigeration era and remained primarily a treat for the elite for many years. It was not until 1851, when a milkman named Jacob Fussell established the first factory in Pennsylvania, that ice cream became available to the masses.

But 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 customers, on a per capita basis, reside in Washington, DC, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

Popular flavors

Despite the emergence of over 1,000 ice cream flavors, vanilla remains a universal favorite (Credit: Baskin Robbins)

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 reveals your personality

Dr. Alan Hirsch believes the ice cream flavor you choose reflects your personality (Credit: Baskin Robbins.com)

While you may think your choice of ice cream 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 fans are impulsive risk-takers who are great at relationships, while those that like chocolate ice cream are lively, charming, and a little dramatic. Strawberry ice cream enthusiasts are believed to be introverted, 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 engaging speakers and good listeners.

The science behind the painful ice cream brain freeze

Here is some good news for those that suffer from brain freezes — they can be avoided by understanding the science behind them. The affliction, officially known as sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, occurs when a cold food, or object, touches the roof of the mouth and causes the blood vessels between the mouth and brain to tense up. This traps the blood in the brain, resulting in the intense shooting pain that we call brain freeze. To prevent that from happening, simply press your tongue against the roof of the mouth. As the sensors warm up, the blood vessels will relax, allowing you to enjoy any cold food pain-free!

If you know any other fun ice cream trivia, be sure to share it with us by writing your comments below.

Resources: Wikipedia.org, benjerry.com, starpacnet.com,monticello.org, preservationmaryland.org

Get the Workbook for this article!

Workbook contains: Article, Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking Questions, Vocabulary in Context (+ answers), Multiple Choice Quiz (+ answers), Parts of Speech Quiz (+ answers), Vocabulary Game (+ answers)
Cite Article
  • wofazejy-159897159588
    wofazejy-159897159588Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 1:37 pm
    i love chocolate and i do not get brain freeze's lol
  • nudetubu-159966658045
    nudetubu-159966658045Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 9:57 am
    i like mint chip
    • jellybellybean
      jellybellybeanWednesday, September 9, 2020 at 8:22 am
      Comment your favorite ice cream! Mine is ~Mint Chocolate Chip~
      • yeahitsmemia
        yeahitsmemiaThursday, September 17, 2020 at 9:07 am
        chocolate, cookies & cream, & rocky road
        • agc12
          agc12Friday, September 11, 2020 at 8:44 am
          same i love mint chocolate chip.
          • wolf-angle
            wolf-angleFriday, September 11, 2020 at 6:38 am
            I love mint 😍
          • funnybunny7
            funnybunny7Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 10:14 pm
            i like cookies n cream.
            • dogperson1029
              dogperson1029Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 4:26 pm
              YEA! the bowls do look like that!??
              • dragonbuddy
                dragonbuddyTuesday, September 8, 2020 at 4:24 pm
                o my gosh i just want to eat it you know right like it looks so good
                • randomnerd62402
                  randomnerd62402Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 11:24 am
                  O MY GOSH THIS IS SOO COOL! (pun intended) Those bowls look like they are made of ice cream XD Also how do they judge your personality by your fav ice cream? Kinda creepy how they do that.
                  • cuteuni
                    cuteuniTuesday, September 8, 2020 at 5:44 am
                    I do get freeze brains but they not bother really! I have to have lots of cold stuff for it to bother. I rember the other day i had one but just kept drinking my cold drink! If I ever have any icecream I eat it quick! Like this post if you get freeze brains.
                    • wolf-angle
                      wolf-angleFriday, September 11, 2020 at 6:45 am
                      I hate brain freeze 😫🤒
                      • bylozewe-159682080612
                        bylozewe-159682080612Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 3:31 pm
                        I do not get bran freeze much cool .🎆
                      • moviestar-girl3
                        moviestar-girl3Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 11:25 am
                        I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream 🍦 probably just me but I do a lot of emojis 😹
                        • cutepiggy
                          cutepiggyFriday, September 4, 2020 at 6:31 am
                          Ice cream is soooooo yummy!!! I love chocolate ice cream! What about you?
                          • redfox1295
                            redfox1295Friday, September 4, 2020 at 10:50 pm
                            Chocolate is the best it's my favorite 😍