Cold, wet, sweet — ice cream is an easy slide down the throat whether you’ve just had your tonsils out or are sweltering on a hot day. One of the hottest months of the year, July, is National Ice Cream Month — a great time to enjoy the cool creaminess of ice cream.
Ice cream has been around almost as long as the pyramids. Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar in 330 B.C. and it was a favored treat during the heyday of the Roman Empire.
In the 13th century, Marco Polo is credited with bringing back to Italy a recipe from the Far East that was much like sherbet and by the 17th century, the English were enjoying “cream ice.”
Ice cream came to America as early as 1744. George Washington spent $200 on ice cream during the summer of 1790 trying to keep cool and President Thomas Jefferson had his own recipe for vanilla ice cream.
It was the dessert of the elite and wealthy until 1800 when insulated ice houses were invented. In 1851, Jacob Fussell pioneered the manufacture of ice cream and Americans now have an annual frozen dairy production of 1.6 billion gallons.
During WWII, ice cream was a morale symbol and each branch of the military tried to outdo the others in serving ice cream to the troops. Floating ice cream parlors were built for sailors and Americans celebrated the end of the war and rationing, with ice cream.
The ice cream truck with its cheery jingle and its welcome relief on a hot day has become the stuff of childhood memories. Most of us can remember neighborhood kids hopping barefooted on neighborhood streets, agonizing over whether to buy a Push-up, a Missile or a Fudgesicle.
Ways to Enjoy it
There are myriad ways to enjoy the sweet treat: Scoops of ice cream in waffle cones, sugar cones or in a cup; sundaes topped with hot fudge, fresh fruit, chopped nuts, flavored syrups; with mix-ins like gummy bears or bits of Oreos; in milkshakes or smoothies; ice cream cakes and parfaits.
Ice cream parlors like Baskin-Robbins and Coldstone Creamery offer a wide variety of flavors and ways to enjoy your favorite summer treat and Baskin-Robbins serves up a Flavor of the Month —in July, it’s Oreo ‘n Chocolate.
Lactose intolerant or watching calories
Because ice cream is a dairy product made with butterfat, it is often high in fat and calories — but it’s so irresistible to most palates that people have found ways to enjoy it anyway.
Soy milk-based ice cream, sherbets and sorbets are available for those who are allergic to dairy products and there are a wealth of sugar-free, low-fat ice cream products in grocery stores for those watching their sugar or calorie intake.
Mountain Democrat staffers did an informal tasting poll of several Skinny Cow low-fat ice cream products: Cookies and Dough Ice Cream Bars (160 calories), Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches (140 calories) and Caramel Truffle Ice Cream Bars (100 calories).
Several tastings later, all staffers agreed that the ice cream did not taste low calorie — it was rich tasting, smooth and creamy, just the way it should be and the Cookies and Dough Bars disappeared much too quickly. Even the staffer who doesn’t like snickerdoodles liked the Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwich.
Much more tasting needs to be done for a truly objective review.
Celebrate July, National Ice Cream Month and summer with a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream.