Fun Facts About Ice Cream

How much do you really know about your favorite summer treat?

By The Editors

You might not be surprised to learn that vanilla is America's favorite ice cream flavor or that chocolate syrup is the country's most-popular topping, but we've rounded up some other fun facts you and your grandkids may not know. 

Ice Cream in World History

  • Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) is known to have loved snow flavored with nectar and honey.
  • The Roman Emperor Nero (54-68 A.D.) had ice and snow brought to him from the mountains, which he stored in special rooms under his palace so that he could top it with fruit to enjoy.
  • Marco Polo (1254-1324) tried ice cream while exploring China and brought the idea back to his native Italy.
  • Ice cream became available to the general population in France in 1660.

Ice Cream in U.S. History

  • Ice cream was introduced to America in the 1700s, but was a rare and exotic dessert enjoyed mostly by those of status and wealth.
  • First Lady Dolley Madison created a sensation when she served ice cream at her husband's second inaugural ball.
  • Around 1800, insulated ice houses were invented and ice cream became an American industry.
  • Immigrants at Ellis Island were served ice cream as part of their first meal in America.
  • The ice-cream industry generates more than $21 billion in annual sales in the United States.
  • More than 90 percent of U.S. households purchase ice cream.
  • In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of that month as National Ice Cream Day.

Ice Cream Record Holders

  • The United States has the world's highest per capita consumption of ice cream, with each American consuming an average of 48 pints per year. 
  • California produces more ice cream than any other state.
  • The Northern Central states have the highest per capita consumption of ice cream.
  • More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.
  • The world record for Largest Ice Cream Scoop Pyramid is held by Carvel. The pyramid was constructed of 3,894 scoops in 2002.

More Fun Facts

  • The first ice cream come was made by Italo Marchiony in New York City.
  • The use of the cone was popularized at the 1904 St. Louis Fair.
  • It takes an average of 50 licks to finish one scoop of ice cream.
  • "Brain freeze" is triggered when ice cream touches the roof of your mouth, causing blood vessels in the head to dilate.

Sources:  International Dairy Foods Association, National Ice Cream Retailers Association,


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