By Peni Jo Renner and Bernadette Wagner
Did you know that in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day? It makes sense since it seems almost everyone loves ice cream. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average American consumes 20 pounds or 4 gallons of this popular treat per year…that’s a lot of ice cream!
“The history of ice cream is as rich as gelato”, so says National Today.com. There you can do a deep dive into ice cream and explore its roots. You will learn that ice cream had its beginning in China somewhere between 618-97 A.D. and some variation of it has been consumed throughout history ever since! If you like ice cream then you are in good company. Just like you, Alexander the Great, King Solomon, and Caesar all enjoyed it too!
As a child, I wasn’t interested in researching the history of ice cream or understanding how it was made. I just wanted to eat it. I attributed its sweet, pleasing taste and creamy texture to some sort of magic. Back in the day, I heard adults refer to alcohol as the “nectar of the gods” so I began referring to ice cream as the “food of the fairies!” It was a very apt description of a tasty treat that had the magical ability to transform an ordinary day into an extraordinary day! One of the true highlights of my childhood was stopping at the Red Rooster for Sixty-Centers (as much soft ice cream as could stay vertical in on a cone.) Those ice cream cones were the stuff of childhood dreams!
I live in Washington County, MD, where there are 103 dairy operations. Last year, our local government sponsored an Ice Cream Trail Journey promoting the 14 ice cream stores in the county. They are all good but my favorite is The Ice Cream Shop, located at 98 West Washington Street. Similar to a scavenger hunt, except instead of receiving clues, Ice Cream Trail participants received a map with each store’s location. Even if you didn’t get a sweet treat at every stop, driving to the different ice cream shops was a great way to experience Washington County’s rural beauty at the height of summer. Those who visited all 14 locations were doubly lucky! On top of having their fair share of delicious ice cream, they were also awarded free t-shirts.
We have to face facts. Although most people probably like ice cream, ice cream doesn’t like everyone. Fortunately for the 36% of Americans who are lactose intolerant, there are plenty of lactose-free options. So don’t miss the fun!
I polled my Red Hat Society chapter members, asking them what their favorite ice cream flavors were. Of the respondents, 54% favored Chocolate, Strawberry, and others tied with 15% while Vanilla and Neapolitan tied at 8%. I was surprised, as I thought everyone would agree with me that Malt and Salt of the Earth was the best flavor…EVER!
So, this July 16, indulge in a cone, a sundae, or some other confection, knowing you’re doing your part to observe a national day of celebration!