Everyone knows what ice cream is. A frozen treat usually made from milk and cream. Well, I say everyone knows what ice cream is. Americans don’t. Oh, they have a specific name for specific varieties, unlike every other country on Earth that just call it all ‘ice cream’. Because it’s not important. Frozen custard, frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato – in the US, ‘ice cream’ is one very specific type. They even have legal criteria for what ice cream is. If it doesn’t meet it, say hello to ‘frozen dairy dessert’. I say it doesn’t matter, but actually, it really pisses me off. Just call it all ice cream like the rest of the world! I should know. My granddad had an ice cream shop. And he was Italian. Italians know their ice cream. Italians and ice cream go together like pasta and Italians…
Before milk based ice creams were introduced in the 10th century, this summer treat was made from ice, hence the name. Production on an industrial scale began in Boston in 1851. And the humble ice cream cone was invented at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Huge demand forced one ice cream seller to seek out help from a nearby waffle seller.
Well, I say seller but Wikipedia reliably informs me that a seller of ice cream is commonly known as an ‘ice cream man, however, women also specialise in the selling of ice cream.’ Oh, that’s nice. I had no idea women can do what men can do. That’s some swell news. I think we need a gender-neutral term. Something better than ‘ice cream man’.
Ice-creamists are regularly seen across the world in ice cream vans, their most famous method of delivery. They often play melodic chimes, a way of telling the children the ice cream van is coming and a way of telling adults that they’re about to lose some money. Pop Goes the Weasel, the Entertainer, Musunde Hiraite, Camptown Races, Greensleeves, You Are My Sunshine and Teddy Bears’ Picnic are all hugely popular tunes. Probably because they’re royalty free. ‘Match of the Day’ is the most popular tune in the UK.
Speaking of which, in the UK, just over 14 million people buy ice cream on average per year, a market worth £1.3 billion. Worldwide, 3.3 billion gallons of ice cream are consumed each year, enough to fill 5,000 Olympic swimming pools. More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week. And it’s the Americans that consume the most ice cream in the world, five gallons per person per year. Although God only knows if that’s in general or one of their million and one varieties…
Vanilla often tops the list as the favourite flavour, usually followed by chocolate, butter then strawberry. Less common flavours include foie gras, lobster, horsemeat, garlic, horseradish, haggis, salmon, chicken, octopus, crocodile, cheeseburger, bacon and Eskimo. I sure hope that last one is just the name of a flavour and contains no actual Eskimos. Gee, someone had better check on that.
The current world record for ice cream eating is just over 11 UK pints in eight minutes. EIGHT! That’s one hell of an ice cream headache. People love ice cream. And there’s no danger of running out. One cow can produce enough milk for 9,000 gallons of the stuff.
Ice cream is magnificent. It tastes lovely and makes you feel better when you’re down. There are a million varieties. A rich history. And it has engrained itself onto our culture with the vans and their chimes. Who doesn’t love ice cream?
It is wonderful.
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The Indelible Life of Me
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Hark Around the Words
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