Saturday, July 16, 2011

National Ice Cream Day

by Diane Forrest

With the high summer temperatures it is a great day to celebrate Ice Cream!  Ice cream, not to be confused with frozen yogurt, sherbet, sorbets or snow cones, is a frozen creamy treat made with cream, eggs, sugar and flavorings.  One would think that the invention of Ice Cream would be relatively new, or at least after refrigeration was invented.  However, the predecessors of Ice cream originated back in 400 B.C!  The people in the Persian Empire would take snow and ice from the mountains and pour grape juice over it and eat it during the summer.  They would save the snow in underground chambers, or either get fresh snow from the mountains when available.  They also developed another recipe using rose water and vermicelli, and adding fruits and nuts. 

The first true recipe for Ice Cream was printed in 1718, but the process for making ice cream has changed since then.  It was documented that the Quakers were responsible for introducing ice cream to the colonies, and Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson regularly enjoyed it.  Dolly Madison even served it at the inauguration of her husband, President James Madison in 1813.

Ice cream became popular throughout the world in the second half of the 20th century after cheap refrigeration became common. There was an explosion of ice cream stores and of flavors and types. Vendors often competed on the basis of variety.  One of these stores was Baskin-Robbins, which boasted 31 flavors, one for every day of the month.   Since the early beginnings, they have developed over 1000 different flavors of ice cream. 

Fun Facts:

Top five flavors are: Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pralines 'n Cream and Chocolate Chip.

Speaking of pralines 'n cream, following a trip to New Orleans, Irv and Irma Robbins were enjoying some souvenir pralines at home when inspiration hit. They rushed to the kitchen, mixed the pralines with Vanilla ice cream and a caramel ribbon—and Pralines 'n Cream was born. It was such a hit that stores all over the country began running out. Advice columnist Dear Abby pleaded in print for its return. Headquarters received petitions with hundreds of signatures. And in Santa Barbara, students picketed local stores until Baskin-Robbins delivered a special production run of the flavor. It has been a permanent flavor ever since.

Howard Hughes once became quite fond of Baskin-Robbins Banana Nut ice cream, so his aides tried to purchase a bulk shipment for him. Sadly, they discovered the flavor had been discontinued. They put in a request for the smallest amount the company could provide for a special order, 350 gallons. It was shipped from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, where Hughes lived at the time on the top floor of the Desert Inn. That's the hotel he bought after they tried to evict him. A few days after the order arrived, Hughes announced he was tired of Banana Nut and only wanted French Vanilla ice cream. The Desert Inn ended up distributing free Banana Nut ice cream to casino customers for a full year until the 350 gallons were gone.

President Obama once scooped up ice cream for Baskin Robbins as did Julia Roberts, Randy Quaid, Rosie O'Donnell, and Chef Bobby Flay.

One of my favorite church socials is the ice cream social.  Families make a freezer of ice cream packed in ice and salt, and everyone would take their bowls around and sample some out of each container.  Flavors such as fresh peach, strawberry, banana and chocolate are always favorites.  Making ice cream at home is easier and faster now than it was with the old hand crank method.  I gave my cousin a little ice cream freezer that only takes about an hour after placing it in the freezer of your refrigerator.  She would call me every day to tell me what new flavor they would try.  Now I wish I had kept that little freezer!

Let’s all celebrate National Ice Cream day by having our favorite flavor.  Mine is Mint Chocolate Chip, what is yours?

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