The History of Ice Cream

The History of Ice Cream

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

Remember singing that growing up? Well you can sing it all month long, because July is National Ice Cream Month!

Who knew we had a whole month dedicated to just ice cream? It’s true! Back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. He acknowledged ice cream as a fun and delicious food that is enjoyed by over 90 percent of American households. In the proclamation, he called for all people in the nation to observe these events with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.” We can’t argue with that.

Ice Cream and the American Economy

The International Ice Cream Association (IICA) encourages everyone to celebrate. And why not? The ice cream industry in the United States is responsible for contributing more than $39 billion to the nation’s economy and creates more than 188,000 jobs in communities across the country. Whoa! Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.

We thought it was only fitting that we explore the history and origination of this classic, favorite treat.

This old-fashioned, frozen treat we all enjoy today has been around for centuries, although there have been many variations of it. Every country has their own version of ice cream.

The Origin

Ice cream can be dated back about 2,500 years when a variation of it was served in ancient Persia. Back then, it began as sweetened water that was iced and ground into small pieces, then topped with assorted fruits.

This version eventually made its way over to the Greek and Roman empires, where it was popular amongst the higher social classes and royalty. It is rumored that the Roman Emperor Nero was a huge fan of ice cream. He made a large chain of slave runners who brought fresh ice from the high mountains to Rome’s largest cities. Because of this production, ice cream was an expensive treat that only those of nobility could afford.

Expansion to Europe

The Fall of the Roman Empire halted the large production of ice cream. However, it began to resurface again nearly a thousand years later in Italy, which was the center of trade for the Middle East and Asia. During this time, ice cream expanded across Europe. Marco Polo is credited with introducing Europe to the milk based ice cream in late 13th century.Catherine de’Medici (an Italian noblewoman), is credited with the spread of ice cream to Europe. In 1533, she married the future king of France and introduced this commodity there.

After this, several chefs and innovators began experimenting with different recipes for ice cream. Although it’s uncertain, ice cream likely made its way to North America through European settlers in the 1700s. In 1790, the first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York. It is said that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and even the Lincoln’s were quite fond of this special dessert.

Mass Production

It wasn’t until after industrial revolution when ice cream was really able to be mass produced with the invention of the refrigerator in 1926. The refrigerator allowed for more people to taste this delectable treat as prices became more affordable, and ways of production improved.

After World War II, ice cream began being mass produced and expanded to Europe. Several flavors and recipes were developed during this time, gaining worldwide popularity.

Today, the United States remains the largest producer and consumer of ice cream in the world. In fact, 9% of American cow’s milk production is dedicated solely to ice cream. It’s just that good! Get in the spirit and celebrate this month with one of your favorite FatBoy ice creams! (Those are presidential orders…)

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