Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

July 2024

Everything Old

We all scream for ice cream in July

by Corbin Crable

In 2024, July celebrates its 40th anniversary as National Ice Cream Month, so grab a spoon and enjoy a heaping scoop while I share a bit about its history.

July as National Ice Cream Month

President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month in 1984, while naming the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day (so, this July 21, help yourself to that extra scoop of butter pecan). It makes sense that Reagan, himself a lover of sweets like the classic jellybean, would bestow this honor upon the month.

Locally, one of my favorite events associated with ice cream is the annual Vaile Mansion Strawberry Festival in Independence, MO, which occurs every June. Besides scrumptious strawberry ice cream being served to attendees, the festival also includes craft and antique booths, a classic car show, and baked strawberry treats. Still, it’s the strawberry ice cream that always seems to be a hit every year.

Using ice cream as the unifying element of a welcoming party or community gathering (as in an ice cream social) only makes sense, since it’s so universally beloved. The ice cream social can trace its roots back to 1744, before the birth of America itself. Thomas Jefferson was the first president to host an ice cream social in 1802 at the White House.

Like so many other items we take for granted in today’s world, ice cream was once a treat reserved only for the rich and influential. However, like those same items, it became easier to produce and thus more affordable and more available with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. It’s been a treat synonymous with summertime ever since – and we Americans delight in it, with the average American consuming about 20 pounds of it – that’s 4 gallons – each year.

The most popular ice cream flavor in the country

Proving that when it comes to sweets, Americans are largely traditionalists, a September 2023 article published on lists good ol’ vanilla as the most popular ice cream flavor in the country (President Jefferson is often credited as the first American to produce an ice cream recipe, actually). Chocolate takes the number two spot, with cookies ‘n’ cream at number three, and my favorite – strawberry – at number four.

Ice cream, of course, populates a special place in our memories of cherished summer days with loved ones. When I was little and my grandparents came to visit, my grandfather always took my brother and I to a small Dairy Queen store a few minutes away from home, where we’d lick vanilla cones while he would enjoy a banana split.

I would give anything to be able to have that experience with Grandpa just one more time.

As the summer sun continues to beat down on us, savor America’s favorite sweet treat with a friend or family member and raise a cone to National Ice Cream Month in July!

President Thomas Jefferson’s Ice Cream Recipe

(modernized version)

1 quart of cream
6 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla

• Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored.
• Add, gradually, 1 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt.
• Bring to a boil 1 quart of cream and pour slowly on the egg mixture.
• Put in top of double boiler and when it thickens, remove and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl.
• When cool, add 2 teaspoonfuls of vanilla. Freeze, as usual, with one part of salt to three parts of ice.
• Place in a mould, pack in ice and salt for several hours. For electric refrigerators, follow usual direction, but stir frequently.

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