Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Five Fun Facts About Ice Cream

Everyone loves ice cream, especially this time of year.  As we began our research for a two week feature on this favorite frozen treat, we found the following sundae of interesting facts.....

1.  Which country do you think has the highest per capita consumption of ice cream?

Yes, you're right the U.S takes first place.  But guess who comes next?  New Zealand -- followed by Denmark, Australia and Belgium. Who would have guessed?

2.  Who invented the first "ice cream"? (And by this we are including all frozen desserts...)

The first "ice cream" was likely consumed in China 3000 years ago.  It was made of snow gathered in the mountains, mixed with fruit pulp, honey, and nectar, and eaten by the emperors.   Marco Polo is said to have brought this recipe back to Italy, where they added milk and made the first gelato.  Grazie, Signore Polo!

3.  So who invented the ice cream cone then? 

Attribution here is murky.  Some sources credit New York ice cream vendor Italo Marchiony, who submitted a patent for a waffle cone in 1903.  He was motivated to find an alternative to bowls due to the high cost caused by breakage and customers walking off with his inventory. 

Other sources claim that the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair was the first place that the ice cream cone was used widely.  A merchant ran out of glasses and spoons and in desperation, teamed up with a nearby waffle seller.  They wrapped the waffles into cone shapes and served the ice cream inside to the joy and delight of their customers. 

But didn't the Belgians invent the waffle...?  So surely they must have put two and two together earlier than that.  If there are any ice cream historians out there who know better than we, then please join the fray and clarify this point.

4.  When was the Ice Cream Soda invented?

Our home city of Philadelphia gets the credit for this one.  Ice-cream sodas were invented right here at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia during the 1874 Sesquicentennial by  Robert Green. 

Depending on who is telling the story, either Mr. Green ran out of the cream that he was using to make his "sodas"--which then consisted of said cream, seltzer water, and flavored syrup.   In desperation, he substituted ice cream, and his daily sales went from $6 to $600.  The other account is that Mr. Green sought to lure customers from a competitor who had a fancier, more impressive-looking soda fountain, and did so by adding ice cream to his drinks. It worked!

5.  What is the top selling ice cream flavor?

The most popular flavor by far is vanilla, followed by chocolate and strawberry.  Other flavors that appeared on many of the top ten lists we viewed were:  butter pecan; neapolitan (which is vanilla/chocolate/strawberry served side by side); mint chocolate chip; peach, chocolate chip; cookies and cream; cookie dough.

Source:  MakeIceCream.com

What's your favorite ice cream treat?

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