Those of you who are already ice cream fanatics probably aren’t surprised to learn that vanilla is Americans’ top ice cream flavor pick or that chocolate syrup is the nation’s go-to topping. But did you know that New York City was home to the first ice cream cone? Learn more about that first crunchy container and other cool, fun, and tasty tidbits in the following list of fun facts about ice cream:
4 Fun Facts about Ice Cream
1. A Treat for Kings
While the ice cream we know and love today appears to have begun in France during the seventeenth century, the origins of flavored ice go much further back. Biblical references note that King Solomon—who historians estimate reigned between 970 and 931 BCE—was fond of flavored iced slush desserts.
During the Roman Empire, Emperor Nero—who reigned between 54 and 86 CE—frequently sent runners out to harvest snow from the mountains, which was then flavored with fruit, juices, and honey. Three centuries later, historic texts tell us that Alexander the Great followed this Roman tradition, opting to flavor his snowy treats with honey and nectar.
2. St. Louis vs. New York City
While we mentioned earlier that New York City is the official birthplace of the ice cream cone, St. Louis ice cream aficionados like to argue this fact. In 1896, Italian immigrant Italo Marchiony invented his ice cream cone in the Big Apple. He was granted a full patent to it in 1903. But less than a year later, a similar cone creation was independently (and accidentally) introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
There, a waffle vendor by the name of Ernest Hamwi (a recent immigrant from Syria) sought to help out a nearby ice cream vendor who had run out of serving dishes by improvising a conical solution out of his own paper-thin waffles. The resulting waffle ice cream cone became a roaring success, and the business of cone-making took off in St. Louis.
3. Wartime Comfort Food
Ice cream played a unique role during World War II when the U.S. War Department included it on a list of six items essential to keeping troop morale high. The U.S. Navy commissioned a special Ice Cream Barge, a ship with the sole purpose of making and distributing ice cream to sailors and soldiers fighting in the Pacific. Back home, food rationing throughout the war had ice cream shops experimenting with different varieties and recipes. Post-war, the nation celebrated with ice cream sundaes, eating the dessert to record highs of 20 quarts a person in 1946.
4. Ice Cream for All of Us
Americans love ice cream. Purchasing habits over the last several years have shown that nine out of every ten U.S. consumers regularly purchase this frozen treat and that one out of five of those ice cream buyers share it with their pets (just remember, chocolate is a no-go for pups!). But perhaps even more interesting is that 2016 marked an upshift in premium brand ice cream sales. Americans aren’t going to give up their favorite sweet treat, but they are trying to buy healthier and more taste-focused options.
If you are looking for an ice cream franchise, then this last statistic on our list of fun facts about ice cream is most pertinent to you. For more information about how you can become part of this American trend, or for other fun facts about ice cream, grab a spoon and contact us at Marble Slab Creamery!