French Ancestors? Learn about Bastille Day
Register for Tuesday's BCG webinar: Lesser Used Records for Research in the Netherlands by Yvette Hoitink, CG

3 Facts About Ice Cream on National Ice Cream Day


Happy National Ice Cream Day!

Unless you’re lactose intolerant, there’s a good chance you enjoy ice cream for dessert. Ice cream is a favorite worldwide and according to, New Zealand, the United States, Australia, Finland, and Sweden eat the most ice cream. The website also claims that 87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezer at any given time. [1] That’s a lot of people eating ice cream! 

What do you know about the frozen dairy treat? Here are 3 facts that might surprise you.

The United States has Enjoyed Ice Cream for a Long Time

You need a freezer to enjoy ice cream, right? Well we depend on them in today's world but it’s said that the Ancient Romans enjoyed ice treats long before modern refrigeration. In the United States, early Americans  enjoyed ice cream too, they just had to be careful about how they prepared and briefly stored it. Blocks of ice were used to keep the dessert cool for our colonial ancestors. The problem of keeping it cold was solved by 1790 when New Yorkers enjoyed frozen scoops at the first ice cream parlor. [2]

Not Every Frozen Dessert is Ice Cream

Do you like frozen custard, gelato, or frozen yogurt? 

According to the website the Kitchn, ice cream’s ingredients of milk, sugar, cream, and egg yolks are cooked, then cooled down and finally churned at a high speed which incorporates air which also increases its volume. Gelato, on the other hand has more milk and less cream and eggs and it’s churned at a slower rate which affects the volume.[3]

Ice cream may not always incorporate eggs but frozen custard always includes egg yolks. Frozen yogurt uses cultured milk instead of cream and unlike ice cream it does not have  a minimum fat requirement.

Some Flavors are not so Sweet

Chances are if I asked you what your favorite flavor of ice cream was, it would be something sweet like chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla. But historically sweet flavored ice creams weren’t the only choices. 

Though possibly more mythology than fact, First Lady Dolly Madison is said to have enjoyed oyster ice cream. Whether she really did enjoy the savory dessert or not we do not know but the 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife:, or Methodical Cook by Mrs. Mary Randolph  includes  a recipe for Oyster Cream that instructs the home cook to “make a rich soup…strain it from the oysters, and freeze it.” You can find this and other more familiar sweet ice cream recipes from this cookbook on Google Books. And you can read more about the historical Oyster Ice Cream controversy.

Whether oyster ice cream was a thing for our ancestors or not, we do know that other savory ice cream flavors have existed. Some of those savory flavors that you can enjoy today include ice creams that use vegetables, cheese, and even alcohol for flavor. One example can be found at the Gilroy Garlic Festival held every year in California. As you can imagine, it  is famous for its garlic ice cream. Curious what that might taste like? One taster describes it as vanilla ice cream with a heavy garlic taste. A mixture of sweet and savory that might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Whether you love chocolate or prefer to try something more savory, Happy National Ice Cream Month!



[1]”The Straight Scoop on Ice Cream,” ( accessed 11 July 2019). 

[2]”Ice cream: An American Favorite Since the Founding Fathers,” PBS ( accessed 11 July 2019). 

[3] “What the Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato?,” Kitchn ( accessed 11 July 2019).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.