By Brooke Stoneman, Former FCPL Librarian
What’s not to love about the tasty summer treat of milk, sugar and as many diﬀerent ﬂavors as you can imagine? The average American consumes about 23 pounds of ice cream and related treats each year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). That could ﬁll more than half your bathtub! Strawberry, vanilla and chocolate are among the most popular ﬂavors, but inventive ice cream makers have given us garlic, corn, cereal milk and even pizza ﬂavored ice cream.
A Tasty History
The history of cold tasty treats goes at least as far back as the Ancient Greeks. Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) was reported to have enjoyed icy beverages sweetened with honey or fruit. But China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) introduced the ﬁrst “ice cream” as we might recognize it by chilling milk products to a freezing temperature. Ice cream most likely spread to Europe from contact with the Middle East, where people enjoyed frozen fruit sherbets during medieval times. By the 17th century, an Italian named Procopio had added sugar to the recipe and opened a café in Paris to sell it to the public, according to the IDFA.
Ice cream was probably brought to the Americas by early European settlers and became popular with some prominent founding Americans. George Washington was particularly fond of ice cream, per the organization’s website, the kitchen in his Mount Vernon home was full of ice cream tins.
As refrigeration and automation continued to develop in19th and 20th century America, ice cream became easier and cheaper to make. The hand-crank ice cream machine was invented in 1843 and the ﬁrst ice cream factory opened in 1851 in Baltimore. Ice cream on a cone was ﬁrst served at the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis, introducing the ice cream cone we all know and love today, according to Seven Fascinating Facts About the History of Ice Cream Trucks.