July is Ice Cream Month

Vanilla Ice Cream

July is Ice Cream Month
| published July 1, 2014 |

By Krista Tani
Thursday Review contributor

There are few things more satisfying than indulging in a large scoop of ice cream on a hot summer’s day. Whether you are enjoying fruity custard, the marshmallow goodness that is Rocky Road or classic vanilla, trying to keep up with those melting edges of a cone or licking your spoon clean after the last bite is utterly refreshing.

As U.S. President, Ronald Reagan thought so too, and thirty years ago this month, he declared July to be National Ice Cream Month.

Ice cream has a long history with precursors to the dessert dating back to at least the fourth century B.C. when figures such as Alexander the Great enjoyed honey or fruit mixed with snow and ice. In 13th century China, Marco Polo came across a recipe for a sorbet-like dessert and brought it back to Europe. It was gradually developed into the creamy treat we know and love by the 16th century, but because there was neither electricity nor refrigeration, ice cream remained a rare delicacy enjoyed by only the wealthiest of patrons.

The trade was introduced in the United States in the 18th century and grew quickly as the Industrial Revolution made the creation, storage and distribution of the frozen dessert more effective. Today, the ice cream business is a $10 billion dollar industry in the United States alone and accounts for approximately 9% of all of the milk produced by the dairy industry.

On July 9, 1984 President Reagan issued a proclamation designating July as “National Ice Cream Month” and the third Sunday of the month as “National Ice Cream Day.” The proclamation’s initial statement that “ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food” is questionable at best, but that doesn’t stop it from continuing to be a favorite treat. President Reagan wrote that ice cream was enjoyed by over 90% of Americans, which still holds true today. The United States leads the world in ice cream consumption with the average American consuming somewhere around five gallons of ice cream per year. Like most things in life, this tasty treat is best enjoyed in moderation, but there is no doubt that the ice cream industry has played and continues to play an important role in American culture and society.

Many Americans also associate ice cream with national holidays, and in keeping with both exceptional U.S. performance in the World Cup Soccer competitions this week, and as a way to offer a fun warm-weather treat for Independence Day, ice cream—in any flavor—seems an appropriate addition to those hot dogs and hamburgers.

This National Ice Cream Month, I, for one, am more than happy to follow President Reagan’s directive to the American people “to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” Now the only question is which flavor to choose.

Related Thursday Review articles:

The Tiny, Incredible, Edible Blueberry; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; September 14, 2013.

The Sweet News About Peaches; Thursday Review; June 28, 2013.