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a frozen concoction that, by law, contains at least 10% milk fat and 20% milk solids by volume
Ice cream is made by slowly mixing a mixture of milk, sugar and flavorings using a solution of briny ice water; brine is used instead of pure water because it has a lower freezing point, and slow mixing is important to allow ice crystals to form without the mixture itself becoming frozen solid. Mixing also allows air pockets to form, which keep the ice cream scoopable. Too much air, however, can make the ice cream mushy; premium ice cream contains less than 25% air by volume, while cheap ice cream may be 50% air.
The exact origins of ice cream as we know it today are unknown, despite the claims of many sources that say it came from ancient China. While frozen desserts were definitely known in ancient times, most of them were either flavored ice concoctions or mixtures of frozen fruit and other ingredients. We do know, however, that European royalty was enjoying true ice cream by the 1600's. Where the production method was developed and who developed it also remain matters for debate. Ice cream remained a treat for royalty and elite until a series of improvements made it easier to produce, thus making it cheap enough for ordinary people to buy. It did not become a regular treat, however, until it became possible for people to make their own ice cream.
History of Ice Cream
The first ice cream parlor in the United States opened in New York City in 1776. This also marked the first time the term "ice cream" was ever used; prior to this it was called "iced cream" or "creamed ice."
The hand-cranked ice cream freezer was invented by New England housewife Nancy Johnson in 1843, but she was unable to secure funding to capitalize on her invention. She finally succeeded in getting a patent in 1846, and then promptly sold the patent to a Philadelphia kitchen wholesaler for $200.
The first commercial ice cream factory was established on June 15, 1851, by Baltimore dairyman Jacob Fussell who was hoping to make a profit from an excess inventory of cream.
There are many stories regarding the invention of the ice cream cone, but the only authenticated one involves Italo Marchiony, owner of several ice cream carts in New York City. Tired of customers stealing his serving glasses, Marchiony began serving his ice cream in baked waffle cups with sloping sides and a flat bottom, in 1896. On December 15, 1903, he received a patent for a waffle mold, which is why he is considered the "father of the ice cream cone." The popularity of ice cream cones was established by a number of different vendors at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
Alfred Cralle patented an ice cream mold and an ice cream scooper on February 2, 1897.
In 1920, Onawa, Iowa, ice cream shop owner Chris Nelson saw one of his customers having difficulty choosing between an ice cream sandwich and a chocolate bar and, as a result, came up with the ice cream treat we now know as an Eskimo Pie. The first Eskimo Pie on a wooden stick was created in 1934.
Harry Burt patented the Good Humor Ice Cream Bar, which was sold by men in starched white uniforms from a white truck, in 1923.
The first commercially successful continuous process freezer for ice cream was developed by Clarence Vogt, sometime around 1926.
The brand Haagen-Dazs was created by Reuben Mattus in 1960. Mattus chose the name because it sounded Danish.
Cookies n' Cream, made with real Oreo cookies, was introduced in 1983, and became a top-five favorite flavor almost immediately; it still holds the record for being the fastest growing new flavor ever introduced.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared July as National Ice Cream Month.
The origins of two special variations on ice cream remain matters for contention -- the ice cream soda and the ice cream sundae. There are literally dozens of contenders for the inventors of both, as well as reasons for their invention.
Ice Cream Statistics and Records
At least one study found that it takes about 50 licks to finish one average-sized single-scoop ice cream cone.
Americans eat more ice cream than anyone else in the world, an average of 22 quarts per person a year; Australia comes in second.
Understandably, the United States is the single largest producer of ice cream in the world, over 1.5 billion gallons per year. It is followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, Belgium/Luxembourg, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Ireland, and Switzerland. The top five ice cream producing states are California, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan.
More ice cream is sold on Sunday in America than any other day; July and August are the months with the most sales.
The most popular flavor is vanilla, accounting for 29% of total sales. Popularity of other flavors in percent of total sales: chocolate 8.9%, butter pecan 5.3%, strawberry 5.3%, neapolitan 4.2%, chocolate chip 3.9%, French vanilla 3.8%, cookies and cream 3.6%, vanilla fudge ripple 2.6%, praline pecan 1.7%, cherry 1.6%, chocolate almond 1.6%, rocky road 1.5%, chocolate marshmallow 1.3%, everything else 23.7%.
The most popular topping is chocolate syrup.
The world's largest ice cream sundae was "constructed" in Alberta, Canada, in 1988; it weighed in at 55,000 pounds.
In 1988, a baking company and a sheet metal firm in Dubuque, Iowa, teamed up to produce the world's large ice cream sandwich, which weighed almost 2,500 pounds.
The world's largest ice cream cake was produced by Baskin-Robbins at a beach hotel in the United Arab Emirates, in 1999; it weighed just short of 9,000 pounds.
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This page was last updated on September 27, 2018.