“Now, therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 1984 as National Ice cream Month and July 15, 1984, as National Ice Cream Day, and I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
1984 made it official: Americans love ice cream. PBS says it happened way earlier; the founding fathers loved it too! Back then though, ice cream was reserved for those with ‘ice houses’, as ice cream was difficult to make without a modern freezer. Dolley Madison, the fourth First Lady, is attributed with making it popular in the White House.
Americans eat more ice cream than any other country. The average person in American eats 48 pints each year (that’s 48,000 calories!). Of the 50 states, California produces the most at 142 million gallons per year.
I vividly remember going with my teammates after a sports game to get ice cream (sorry to the people in line behind us!). My dad coached many of my teams, and we often had an ice cream social at my home before the season started to meet everyone and fill the parents in. These are some of my fondest memories from growing up. People eat ice cream because it’s delicious, but also there is a social benefit too. Going out to get ice cream is often an event, a way of being part of a group, of relaxing and being. Ice cream is used to celebrate, to ease the tension of a first date or of a breakup, to celebrate birthdays, and for me, a yummy way to help my headache. Today ice cream is inexpensive, and no longer has class implications like in Dolley Madison’s time.
Getting ice cream often provides a small town appeal; or at the least, a homemade appeal. I love ice cream, and I love going out to get ice cream. But I really prefer to go to Handels in Berwyn or Freddy Hill Farms in Lansdale. The ice cream is homemade and tastes better, but you definitely feel a sense of community and hometown-ness at both locations, more so than at a Dairy Queen or Baskin Robins. Waiting in lines at these homemade ice cream shops, there is a mutual understanding with the people around you: you both know where to go for the best, most homemade ice cream; you wouldn’t go to Dairy Queen, you have something in common. I feel better about being at Freddy Hill than at chain shops.
In class we discussed that many of our American food Icons are unhealthy. I agree, but I would argue that many of them are iconic, because they are the treats that people allow themselves. You’re not just enjoying junk food; you’re enjoying an experience that surrounds consuming junk food! We may get one scoop with no toppings, but in my experience, most people don’t pass up the frozen treat in a social setting. It’s almost uncomfortable to say no to ice cream when with a group where everyone else is getting ice cream; you become the un-fun, uptight, obsessed-with-calories person who can’t enjoy a scoop of ice cream. I would say it’s the same with pie on thanksgiving: everybody has a small slice.
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=40141 (Reagan quote)
http://www.californiadairypressroom.com/node/356 (How much ice cream we eat)
http://www.pbs.org/food/features/ice-cream-founding-fathers/ (Dolley Madison, ice houses)