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When You Celebrate Independence Day, Don't Forget the Ice Cream

Jun 27, 2012

Joining our fellow citizens in Congress, IDFA staff will take a July 4 recess next week. The IDFA offices will close at noon on Tuesday, July 3, and reopen on Monday, July 9. As you celebrate our country's independence, remember our forefathers and their fondness for ice cream, the country's favorite tasty treat.

Did you know:

  • Records kept by a New York merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. Inventory records of Mount Vernon taken after Washington's death revealed "two pewter ice cream pots."
  • President Thomas Jefferson was said to have a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy that resembled a modern-day Baked Alaska. Check out President Jefferson's vanilla ice cream recipe here.
  • In 1813, First Lady Dolley Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President Madison's second inaugural banquet at the White House.
  • Around 1800, insulated ice houses were invented. Manufacturing ice cream for the public became an industry in America in 1851, pioneered by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell.
  • Like other American industries, ice cream production increased because of technological innovations, including steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, new freezing processes and equipment, and motorized delivery vehicles.  
  • Wide availability of ice cream in the late 19th century led to new creations. In 1874, the American soda fountain shop and the profession of the soda jerk emerged with the invention of the ice cream soda.
  • In response to religious criticism for eating rich ice cream sodas on Sundays, ice cream merchants left out the carbonated water and invented the ice cream "Sunday" in the late 1890s. The name was eventually changed to sundae to remove any connection with the Sabbath.
  • Ice cream became a symbol of service morale during World War II. Each branch of the military tried to outdo the others in serving ice cream to its troops. In 1945, the first "floating ice cream parlor" was built for sailors in the western Pacific. When the war ended, and dairy product rationing was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. Americans consumed over 20 quarts of ice cream per person in 1946.
  • From the 1940s through the 1970s, ice cream production remained relatively constant in the United States. As more prepackaged ice cream was sold through supermarkets, traditional ice cream parlors and soda fountains became less prevalent.
  • Today's total frozen dairy annual production in the United States is approximately 1.53 billion gallons, according to a recent study by MarketLine, an Informa business. In 2010, the overall U.S. ice cream industry generated total revenues of $10 billion, and take-home ice cream sales represented the largest section of the market, generating revenues of $6.8 billion or 67.7 percent of the market’s overall value.

Look how far we've come – and yet we still enjoy our ice cream, one of life's simple pleasures. Happy 4th of July!