In 1984, President Ronald Reagan decreed that July would be National Ice Cream Month. And on the third Sunday of July—yes, that's today—we celebrate National Ice Cream Day. Here are 11 fun facts to help you celebrate the occasion.
1. ROMAN EMPEROR NERO MAY HAVE BEEN AN EARLY FAN.
Though his sanity has often been called into question, some sources have claimed that Nero helped spark the evolution of present-day ice cream. The emperor allegedly ordered his slaves to bring ice from nearby mountaintops on hot summer days before mixing it with fruits and honey. If the story is true, this treat was among the first frozen snacks known to history.
2. MARTHA WASHINGTON USED TO SERVE ICE CREAM TO HER GUESTS AT MOUNT VERNON.
Prior to the invention of refrigeration, ice cream was a rather expensive dessert. Our nation's first president is rumored to have once spent $700 on the delicacy in New York City over the course of one summer. Sharing her husband's zeal, Martha acquired a “cream machine for ice” in 1784.
3. THE FIRST HOME ICE CREAM MACHINE WAS INVENTED IN THE 1840S.
4. THE ICE CREAM CONE WAS POPULARIZED AT THE 1904 ST. LOUIS WORLD'S FAIR.
While metallic and paper cones had been used by ice cream-eating Europeans for more than a century beforehand, Syrian immigrant and waffle salesman Ernest Hamwi has generally been credited with inventing the first edible ice cream cone at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair when a nearby vendor ran out of serving dishes, and the creation sparked a nationwide sensation. However, while Hamwi most certainly did a great deal to popularize ice cream cones at the aforementioned festival, he's no longer cited as their inventor due to a recent reanalysis, which dates them back to 1894.
5. ICE CREAM FLOATS WERE CREATED WHEN A SODA SHOP OWNER RAN OUT OF REGULAR CREAM.
Yet another Philadelphian entrepreneur by the name of Robert Green would regularly mix syrup and cream into his carbonated beverages in the last decades of the 1800s. Legend has it that on one fateful day, he ran out of these regular ingredients and used ice cream as a substitute, creating the first ice cream soda in the process. One of the beverage's biggest fans was none other than Will Rogers, who exclaimed after first tasting one, “You will think that you have died and gone to heaven!”
6. BEN AND JERRY ONLY DECIDED TO MAKE ICE CREAM BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T AFFORD A BAGEL MACHINE.
You can read the full story here.
7. YOU CAN BUY SQUID ICE CREAM IN JAPAN.
Octopus and ox tongue are also among the many weird and wonderful flavors one can enjoy in the land of the rising sun.
8. AFTER THE U.S., NEW ZEALAND IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST ICE-CREAM-CONSUMING NATION.
Kiwis may trail Americans in ice cream devouring, but they rank above Australians, Danes, and Belgians, all of which crack the global top 10 list.
9. A 2012 STUDY FOUND THAT THE BRAIN OF AN ICE CREAM LOVER BEARS A STRIKING RESEMBLANCE TO THAT OF A COCAINE ADDICT.
The study—which was launched at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition—found that when the brain craves ice cream and other high-fat/high-sugar foods, it reacts in the same way as a cocaine user's does in a period of withdrawal.
10. LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA CONSUMES MORE ICE CREAM THAN ANY OTHER U.S. CITY.
In 2012, after an exhaustive survey of regional credit card transactions throughout the nation, researchers found that, “Long Beachers eat ice cream a whopping 268 percent more than the average American." Fort Worth and Dallas also scored well above average when it comes to devouring ice cream.
11. ICE CREAM TRUCK JINGLES ARE A LOT MORE DIVERSE THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT.
“I Scream, You Scream” has hardly had a monopoly on the music blared by these beloved vehicles over the years. Other popular jingles include “La Cucaracha,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” and Scott Joplin's “The Entertainer.” But not everyone has been amused by this musical repertoire: In 2010, a Wichita, Kansas resident petitioned the city council to tighten their restrictions on ice cream truck jingle volume: “I'm not anti-ice cream," the resident said. "I just don't think they need to play the music that loud and that often. It's obnoxious.”