Few things in our world can compare to delicious ice cream on a blazingly hot summer day. In fact, many a person’s earliest childhood memories include their first encounter with this delectable frozen treat. But, it takes a genuinely inquisitive mind to sit back and think about what they really know regarding one of the world’s most famous desserts.
Although not as healthy as fruit or vegetables, some truths about ice cream, like the facts about apples, will surprise you. This listicle is the only peek into the wacky world of ice cream you’ll ever need.
So read on to discover the most interesting facts about ice cream you never knew you needed. Who knows, you might just end up loving ice cream even more.
33 Interesting Facts about Ice cream
As delicious as ice cream is, very few facts about the immensely popular dessert are commonly known. So without further ado, here’s your go-to list of facts that will melt in your mouth.
Ice Cream Is a Lot Older Than You Think
The historical evidence for ice cream points to it first being enjoyed during the seventh century in China. King Tang of Shang assigned a group of ‘ice men’ to create a frozen delicacy from buffalo milk, flour, and camphor.
2. You Can Thank the Law for Ice Cream Sundaes
Under religious fanaticism in the US town of Evanston, selling ice cream sodas on a Sunday was declared illegal. Shop owners improvised and replaced the soda with syrup and the ‘y’ in Sunday with an ‘e’. Thus giving birth to what we know today as an ice cream sundae.
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3. Ice Cream Used To Be a Delicacy
Due to the lack of adequate refrigeration technology, ice cream was deemed a rare and exotic treat only enjoyed by the wealthy and influential. Only the richest of the rich in the 1700s had the luxury of delighting in this dessert.
4. You’d be Surprised by the Flavors People Have Created
With over 1,000 flavors being recorded around the globe, some of the most interesting ones include avocado, garlic, licorice, deep-fried chicken, and even bacon. For example, the Japanese really experiment with crazy flavors, but more on that in a bit.
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5. You’re Probably Wrong About the First Ice Cream Flavor
If you guessed vanilla, you’d be dead wrong. The first official ice cream flavour originating from Italy in the 1600s was chocolate. During the renaissance in Florence, a competition was held to showcase new and unique dishes, and chocolate ice cream came out on top.
6. Ice Cream Cones Haven’t Been Around for Long
In the midst of the 1904 World Fair held in St. Louis, one of the ice cream vendors, due to an immense crowd, ran out of bowls to serve in. This vendor enlisted the help of a nearby waffle stand owner who created the first rounded waffle cone.
7. Almost Everyone Likes Ice Cream
It is estimated that 90% of all American households have ice cream in their freezers at any given moment. This is echoed worldwide as ice cream has remained the most popular dessert, followed by chocolate chip cookies in second place.
8. Ice Cream Is Good for Your Brain
A study conducted by the Kyorin University in Tokyo in 2019 revealed that having ice cream for breakfast delivered surprising results. Individuals in the study showed higher rates of brain activity and alertness throughout their day than those with alternative breakfast options.
9. Tongue Insurance Is a Real Thing
Insurance covers everything in the modern world, and if you’re John Harrison, you’ve got the added benefits of tongue insurance. As the prime taste tester for Dreyer’s Ice Cream, John had his taste buds insured for $1 million.
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10. Think You Know the Main Ingredient in Ice Cream? You Don’t.
You can be forgiven for thinking the main ingredient for ice cream is milk; that, however, is not the case. The main ingredient in ice cream is air. Yes, air. It is added to ice cream to make it lighter and improve its texture. Your ice cream quality is also directly related to how much air it contains.
11. The Biology Behind Brain Freeze
Everyone has at some point suffered the wrath of brain freeze. Well, it’s not just the ice cream’s fault. When any cold substance touches the roof of your mouth, which is a significant nerve centre, the blood vessels in your brain constrict, thus resulting in a painful headache.
12. It Takes a Lot of Milk To Produce Ice Cream
Although not the main ingredient in ice cream, it takes a lot of milk to produce it. For every gallon of ice cream that is made, 12 pounds of milk is needed.
13. 2008 Was a Weird Year for Ice Cream
In the history of ice cream, no year was quite as weird as 2008. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) petitioned Ben & Jerry’s to replace cow’s milk with human breast milk. This was luckily denied.
14. Canada REALLY Likes Ice Cream
While it does not lead the world in ice cream consumption, Canada does take the top spot in another category. It is the leading country in the world when it comes to ice cream consumption during winter. And Canadian winters get cold, which makes this truly out of the ordinary.
15. Ice Cream Is a Safe Space
Psychological studies conducted throughout the years have indicated that eating ice cream improves a person’s sense of safety. Not only that, but it also creates a heightened sense of comfort.
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16. There’s a Whole Month Dedicated to Ice Cream
Former US president Ronald Reagan was many things. One of which was a very enthusiastic ice cream consumer. In fact, his liking for the frozen dessert was the driving force behind his declaration of July as America’s National Ice Cream Month.
17. Would You Like Some Alcohol With Your Ice Cream?
You might scratch your head at the thought of getting a bit tipsy while enjoying your favourite ice cream flavour. Well, chefs around the world have started a trend of infusing the famous dessert with alcohol. Bourbon, tequila, and whiskey are some of the most popular ice cream infusions.
18. Save the Ice Cream First
If there ever was a showcase of deep-rooted ice cream love, it would be by the crew of the USS Lexington. During bombing raids by the Japanese in World War Two, while the naval vessel was sinking, the crew stayed aboard to break into the freezer and eat all the ice cream first.
19. Ice Cream, Champagne, and… Viagra
Ice cream maker Charlie Harry Francis decided to develop a champagne-flavoured ice cream to entice the world of A-list celebrities. While this would have been good enough, he then decided to add about 25mgs of Viagra to each scoop to keep the party going, we assume.
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20. Why Not Add Some Lobster to That?
The last possible combination that springs to mind when thinking of ice cream is lobster, right? Well, a chocolate emporium in the US state of Maine thought it fitting to create a butter-flavoured ice cream that contained chunks of lobster meat.
21. You Know What, Let’s Just Make It Spicy
Beyond all the craziness that ice cream flavouring has undergone in its history, Sunni Sky’s Homemade Ice Cream introduced its ‘cold sweat’ flavour to the public. You will need to sign a waiver before digging in, as it contains elements from the hottest peppers in the world.
22. Ireland Got Creative When Times Got Tough
Do you know what Ireland does when a financial crisis hits? The country gets delightfully creative. During global economic instability, Irish citizens didn’t want to waste food. This led to the creation of caramelized-brown-bread ice cream. It is now a delicacy.
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23. Why Japan? Why?
Japan is known for many things, some better than others. This brings us to some of the oddest ice cream flavours you’ll ever find. It isn’t uncommon to find ‘delectable’ flavours such as octopus, shrimp, horseflesh, and cow tongue.
24. Ben & Jerry’s Are Certified Ice Cream Heroes
Ice cream is big business, and for Ben & Jerry’s, it’s their crowning achievement. Selling an estimated $500 million worth of ice cream annually, their customer base is present on every continent except Antarctica.
25. Okay, So Maybe Japan Is Onto Something
We’ll forgive Japan for its weird flavours because Kanazawa’s ice cream pops are a first of their kind. At room temperature, these treats stay frozen for up to one hour. The best part, the technique for making these pops was discovered by accident.
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26. The Ice Cream Mile-High Club
American ingenuity knows no bounds, especially when it comes to ice cream. American bombers, during WW2, would strap buckets of cream to their planes and literally make ice cream as they flew at high altitudes. The higher up, the colder it gets, and the quicker it freezes.
27. Ice Cream Thrives When the Economy Declines
Surprisingly, throughout the last few decades, ice cream businesses report record earnings whenever the world enters a period of economic decline. During events such as The Great Depression and the global recessions of the last decade, stock markets went down, and ice cream profits went up.
28. Horse Ice Cream – Seriously
Okay, let’s ruin ice cream for everyone. No, horse ice cream is not some fanciful name for a style of ice cream, unfortunately. This is a real thing, and it really is ice cream made from horse meat. It’s luckily not prevalent worldwide, and you’d have to truly look far and wide to find it (we’re looking at you, Japan).
29. The Pentagon Backs Ice Cream
Having the military backing of the Pentagon is a pretty impressive feat. Well, during the Korean War, when an American general wanted to restrict the amount of ice cream soldiers could consume, the Pentagon took action. A formal statement assured troops that they would still receive ice cream at least three times a week.
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30. How Big?
Imagine, for a moment, the biggest ice cream sundae you possibly could. Now double that, and maybe you’ll get to the actual size of the official largest sundae the world has ever seen. In 1988 Palm Dairies in Alberta, Canada, put together a sundae that weighed in at a whopping 54,914 pounds.
31. There’s No Ice Cream In Space
Although space might be filled with amazing planets, constellations, galaxies, and even possibly other universes, it, unfortunately, doesn’t have ice cream. NASA reports that ice cream is the number one thing astronauts on the ISS (International Space Station) miss the most.
32. Ice Cream Money Is a Real Thing
Money is money, and no matter where in the world you are, there is a monetary system in place. America loves ice cream so much that it’s hard to believe they haven’t introduced it as a currency. Ice cream money generated over $6 billion in the US in 2019 alone. In perspective, that means that every man, woman, and child in the US in 2019 spent $40 annually on ice cream.
33. Golden Spoons… Like Real Gold
The art of ice cream creation is such a beloved and revered profession that taste testers for new flavours are literally treated like royalty. Many of the leading ice cream companies around the world only employ specialized tasters. And, upon testing new flavours, they are provided with actual golden spoons. In comparison, standard metallic spoons interfere too much with the taste and are thus deemed taboo.
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Final Thoughts on the Wacky World of Ice Cream
Regardless of whether you indulge your taste buds once in a while or continuously over-expose them to ice cream, there is no doubt about this dessert’s cult status. You’re bound to find an ice cream shop in every corner of the world. And, should you choose not to grab a cone or two, you’d be missing out on the incredible world of ice cream.
For more fun food facts, read our lists of facts about French food and facts about Mexican food.