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Get a taste of the history of ice cream as US celebrates National Ice Cream Day


This picture shows individuals holding ice cream cones. — Unsplash/File
This picture shows individuals holding ice cream cones. — Unsplash/File

You know a dessert is irresistible when there is a day set aside to honour it, just as July 16 is marked to honour ice cream, one of the cosiest and tastiest desserts, as National Ice Cream Day in the US.

The celebratory day for ice cream was established by Former US President Ronald Reagan in 1984, who also designated the month of July as National Ice Cream Month.

“Ice cream is] a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over 90% of the people in the United States,” the former president shared in the proclamation.

However, have you ever wondered where ice cream came from and how it ended up in the US?

Where did it all begin for ice cream in the US?

According to the Ice Cream Alliance in the UK, the first evidence of something resembling ice cream was discovered in China during the Tang period (618–907 AD). 

Milk from goats, cows, and buffalo was heated and given time to ferment. After adding flour to thicken it and camphor, a waxy, colourless solid with a strong aroma, to flavour it, this “yoghurt” was “refrigerated” before being served. Out of the 2,271 people working for King Tang of Shang, 94 were icemen.

Eventually, ice cream was first introduced in the US in 1744 and made its advertisement debut in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

How has ice cream impacted the US economy?

Early spring and summer, between the months of March and July, are the busiest times for ice cream production, with the US producing 1.38 billion gallons of ice cream in 2022, according to the IDFA.

Additionally, Dairy Delivers, an IDFA affiliate that monitors developments in dairy-related products, suggests that the ice cream industry has a $13.1 billion impact on the American economy, supports about 28,800 direct jobs, and generates $1.8 billion in direct wages.

The IDFA further stated that the dairy sector as a whole “supports more than 3.2 million jobs that generate $49 billion in direct wages and $794 billion in overall economic impact.”

According to the Federal Reserve Economic Data of St. Louis, a half-gallon of ice cream is currently $5.81 on average, though the price may vary depending on the brand or retailer.

The future expansion of the ice cream industry may be influenced by the world’s insatiable desire for the treat.

“The global ice cream market is projected to grow from $73.61 billion in 2022 to $104.96 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 5.20% in the forecast period, 2022-2029,” Federal Business Insights reported.

This picture shows a range of different ice cream flavours. — Unsplash/File
This picture shows a range of different ice cream flavours. — Unsplash/File

How much ice cream is produced and consumed in US?

One gallon of ice cream can be produced from three gallons of milk, and, according to The Dairy Alliance, a single cow can typically produce two to three gallons of ice cream per day.

Approximately six to seven gallons of milk are produced daily by dairy cows, who are milked two to three times daily, according to Midwest Dairy.

The IDFA reported that the average American consumes four gallons, or about 20 pounds, of ice cream annually.

In addition, the IDFA went on to say that two out of three consumers will eat ice cream in the evening and that nearly 73% of consumers will consume ice cream at least once a week.

As a friendly challenge to celebrate National Ice Cream Day, you might want to try and finish your ice cream in less than 50 licks, which is the average number of licks it takes to finish a scoop of ice cream, according to Hayward’s Ice Cream.

Miki Sudo, a top-ranked competitive eater, set the record for the most ice cream consumed in six minutes in 2017 at the World Ice Cream Eating Championship at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis.

According to a Fox News report, Sudo ate 16.5 pints of ice cream in the 6-minute period.

“Sudo forced herself to eat 2.75 pints of ice cream per minute, which is roughly half a cup every five and a half seconds… She consumed around 8,580 calories based on the amount in a pint of the Prairie Fields’ brand used in the contest,” Fox News also reported.


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