“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” This popular song hit the number three spot on the record charts in 1928, reflecting the passion that Americans have always had for this delicious frozen treat.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. President Reagan recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by over 90 percent of the nation’s population.
The earliest written record of a frozen confection comes from ancient China. In Rome, Emperor Nero is said to have sent slaves up into the mountains to find snow and ice, which was then mixed with nectar, fruit pulp, and honey. Iced desserts were served in the wealthiest households and courts of Italy, England, France, and Spain.
Ice cream came to America from Europe. The first ice cream parlor opened in New York City in 1776. Dolly Madison, the wife of President James Madison, popularized ice cream in 1812 by serving a dessert of frozen cream, sugar and fruit at the White House. In 1843, a New Jersey homemaker named Nancy Johnson invented a hand-cranked ice cream churn. From 1847 to 1877, more than 70 churn improvements were patented.
In 1851, the first commercial ice cream plant opened in Baltimore, run by Jacob Fussell of Virginia. Fussell is now known as the father of the American ice cream industry. He used ice chips and an underground storage area to keep his ice cream cool and fresh. Beginning in the early 1900’s, dry ice was used to keep ice cream cold.
As electricity began to spread across the country, the electric ice cream maker was invented in the early 1900s. With the introduction of mechanical refrigeration, developed by Clarence Vogt in 1926, the treat became easily distributable and profitable. The continuous freezer and later versions produced by other manufacturers, allowed ice cream to be mass-produced.
The ice cream shop or soda fountain has since become an icon of American culture. Most of us have fond memories of eating ice cream at special occasions such as birthday parties, ice cream socials, or at the old-fashioned ice cream parlor. By the end of the 20th century, many brands and flavors of ice cream were being marketed on a large scale in supermarkets and franchised parlors.
Even with all of the prepackaged ice cream varieties sold these days, homemade ice cream has not lost any of its appeal. Hand-cranked and electric ice cream mixers make homemade ice cream a fun project for the whole family. Thanks to this infographic from Chef Works, you don’t even need an ice cream machine to make your own!