50 Ice Cream Facts You Didn’t Know You Had to Know

I scream, you scream, yeah, you know the rest. But there are a lot of ice cream facts you probably didn't know.

But you can find them out here.

History? Trivia? Famous faces? We got 'em, and more.

From production methods to weird flavors around the world to ice cream history, grab your scoop and let’s go!

Ice Cream Facts: How It's Made

Ice cream is just milk, sugar, and flavorings, right?


Pouring Milk

Via Pixabay

Wrong!

The truth is, you can make ice cream a lot of different ways. And some ways you’d probably never guess.

Ice cream facts #1: You can make ice cream from nuts

Are you nuts about nuts? Or perhaps dairy’s not your thing.

That’s cool! Or rather, it’s cold.

The secret to ice cream doesn’t come from a cow. It comes from fat.

Almond Cashew And Milk

Via Pixabay

Fat is what allows ice cream to condense when it’s cold enough, and develop that creamy texture we all love so much.

Nuts are high in fat, which makes them sound like a no-no. But ice cream is a treat. No matter what the source of fat, you shouldn’t be eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Well, maybe after breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

But if you’re looking for something a little bit different, you can try ice cream made from cashews or almonds.

In fact, you can make your own pretty easily.

Ice cream facts #2: Ice cream…from rice and beans?

Why not?

If you’re a vegan or have a dairy sensitivity, then you’re probably no stranger to soy and rice milk.

Can you have your beans and rice and eat your ice cream too?

Yes, you can!

You might wonder about these two, though. Unlike nuts, neither soy milk nor rice milk is particularly high in fat. And butterfat is what makes ice cream so deliciously creamy.

If you're having a hard time getting your soy or rice milk ice cream to stabilize, Ice Cream Geek recommends either using a higher-fat base (7 to 10 percent) or using a stabilizer like xanthan gum.

Ice cream facts #3: What else can you use to make an ice cream base?

Have you gone nuts with nuts, said no dice to rice, and you think you're out of options?

You're not! Almost any non-dairy "milk" can be an ice cream base.

But you may have to experiment.

Enter your text here...

Check out these cool recipes:

Remember: the secret ingredients are fat, sweetness, and cold!

And if you're diabetic -- no worries! There's an ice cream recipe (or several) for you, too!

question

Adzuki Bean Ice Cream

In Japan, the red, slightly sweet Adzuki bean is the basis of many desserts. You can make ice cream from it, too! This is a very popular flavor in Hawaii.

Ice cream facts #4: You can make ice cream with just two ingredients.

If you look at the ingredients of a lot of commercial ice creams, you’ll find a list as long as your arm — many of which are impossible to pronounce.

But if you make your own, you can do it with just two ingredients.

Can you guess what they are?

That’s right:

  • Full-fat milk or cream
  • Your favorite sweetener

Add a flavoring, and you’re good to go.

Ice cream facts #5: There’s an ice cream for your four-footed friend, too

Pupcakes and Puppuccinos may be all the rage at your favorite cafe, but your best canine bud can have ice cream, too.

What? Really?

Yes!

Several companies make ice cream specifically for dogs. You can also make your own.

How is doggy ice cream different?

Well, for one thing, many recipes use yogurt as a base. Also, doggy ice cream recipes typically don't use sugar.

Sugar is bad for all of us, but it's terrible for your pooch.

And we don't need to tell you, you should never ever give your pup chocolate.

So, what flavors do dogs like? Here are a few.

  • Peanut butter (a fave)
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Banana
  • Bacon
  • Sardine
  • Cheddar cheese

Some of those flavors may have you tilting your head. But your dog will love it! Trust us!

Be aware, though, that some dogs, like some people, are lactose intolerant.

What's the diff?

Gelato? Ice cream? Ice milk? Frozen yogurt? Frozen custard? How different are they, really? Turns out: quite a bit.

Ice cream is typically made from dairy cream, sugar, (sometimes) eggs, and flavorings. Ice milk is a lower-fat version made with milk instead of cream. 

Gelato is Italian-style ice cream. It's made with milk, sugar, and custard, but no eggs.

Frozen yogurt, or fro-yo, is made from yogurt and can have a tangy taste from the yogurt cultures. It started out as a healthier alternative to ice cream, but many of today's commercial fro-yos have just as much sugar and fat as regular ice cream.

Frozen custard is made from eggs, cream, and sugar. It tends to be denser than regular ice cream and served at a warmer temperature.

Ice Cream Facts #6: The cows are in it to win it.

The United States is one of the world’s top ice-cream producing nations. And this is good because we’re one of the top ice-cream eating nations as well.

It’s a good thing we have so many cows. But just how much ice cream can one cow produce?

Black And White Cow In Green Grass Field

Via Pixabay

Go on, guess.

You’ll probably be way off.

Did you know? A single dairy cow can produce enough milk in her lifetime to make over 9,000 gallons of ice cream?

Moo!

Ice Cream Facts #7: Freezer Geezers

Woman Holding Cone of Ice Cream

Via Pixabay

We’ve all probably had a go at making our own ice cream, either in the freezer or with an ice cream maker.

Anyone remember those noisy, messy, brine-spitting machines with their layers of ice and rock salt?

Maybe earlier cultures had it right.

The Roman Emperor Nero (54-68 A.D.), for example, had his minions bring him ice and snow from the mountains. He stored it in special cold, underground rooms, and brought it out to enjoy topped with fruit.

You probably don't have a special room in your basement for storing snow. But next winter, you could give it a try Nero style.

Ice Cream Facts #8: Doin' It American Style

If your great-great grandparents flew missions during the second world war, they might have made ice cream over enemy territory.

How? You might ask.

Dessert Topped with Ice Cream

Via: Pixabay

Well, bomber pilots would strap buckets of sugared cream to their planes before they took off on their raids.They would fly at such high altitudes that the ice cream would freeze and be ready to eat by the time they came back.

If they came back.

More Ice cream facts: Tales From the Deep Freeze

Do you think you know ice cream history?

Assorted Ice Cream

Image via giphy.com

Maybe…and maybe there are still a few surprises to come.

Ice cream facts #9: Who froze it first?

Kitchen Area

Via Pixabay

China, Greece, Italy, North Africa, and France all claim to have invented ice cream. And it’s possible that they developed their versions of it independently.


But who was first?

We’ll probably never know for sure, but we can thank the many, many different people who had a hand in it.

Ice cream historians can trace this delicious dessert back to the 5th century BC — but it could have been around, in some form, even earlier than that.

Ice cream facts #10: Anyone for a game of Marco Polo?

Many believe that ice cream first came to Europe in the 13th century when Marco Polo brought it back from his travels in China.

And if you think American health food fanatics are the first ones to make ice cream from rice milk, you're wrong!

The Chinese were doing it 3,000 years ago!

Ice cream facts #11: The French still have a claim to fame

In Italy, England, and France, ice cream was a delicacy for the aristocracy for a long time.

But!

Cafe Procope in Paris eventually brought ice cream to the masses for the first time ever.

The year was 1660.

Ice cream facts #12: A declaration…of deliciousness!

The first American ice cream parlor opened in 1776 — that’s the same year as the Declaration of Independence.

Coincidence?

If so, it’s a tasty one!

Ice cream facts #13: Churn it!

Bucket Made of Wood

Via Pixabay

The first home ice cream maker came onto the market in 1843.

The inventor Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia, PA, found that churning the mix in a container connected to a crank was faster than using a bowl surrounded by ice.

It also made creamier, tastier ice cream.

Thank you, Nancy!

Ice cream facts #14: Sugar, plain, or waffle?

Italy has contributed a lot to ice cream history. One of their best contributions?

The cone.

The first ice cream cone was invented by Italo Marchiony in 1896.

He received an American patent for it in 1903.

Cup Of Ice Cream with Sprinkles

via Pixabay

We can also give credit to Syrian Ernest M. Hamwi.

Hamwi was running a waffle concession at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair when the ice cream seller beside him ran out of dishes.

Quick-thinking Hamwi rolled up one of his waffles and gave it to the vendor. The waffle cooled and hardened in seconds, the ice cream vendor put a scoop inside it.

And the rest is ice cream history.

Ice cream facts #15: Ice cream gets wheels

The first ice cream truck rolled out onto American streets in 1920.

Its inventor, Harry Burt, also invented the first chocolate-coated ice cream bar. You may be familiar with the Good Humor Bar? This was it.

Blue and White Ice Cream Truck

Ice cream carts had been around for a long time, but this was the first motorized ice cream delivery vehicle.

Ice cream facts #16: Dang the torpedoes and save the ice cream!

When the Japanese sank the WWII naval carrier USS Lexington in 1942, the crew didn't abandon ship until they had broken into the freezer and eaten all of the ice cream!

I wonder what flavor it was.

Ice cream facts #17: A floating soda fountain!

The second world war was a time for ice cream history, it seems.

In 1945, the U.S. military built the first floating ice cream parlor!

This ice cream parlor was stationed in the south Pacific ocean and provided refreshment to our hardworking sailors.

Ice cream facts #18: Never on a Sundae

The American blue laws date back to Puritan times.

What were they, and what did they have to do with ice cream?

We're glad you asked that!

The Blue Laws were one way of enforcing an old vision of the Biblical Sabbath.

Basically, the laws forbade doing certain activities on Sundays.

Can you believe that at one point, it was illegal to enjoy ice cream sodas on a Sunday?

That’s right.

Why? Who knows?

But crafty ice cream purveyors got around this by creating something even better — the Ice Cream Sundae!

So, even if the law prevented you from enjoying ice cream mixed with soda water after church, you could still indulge in pure ice cream topped with fruit, nuts, sauces, whipped cream, and a cherry!

Ice cream facts #19: Ice cream and television don't mix

Did you know?

In the early days of TV, when TV chefs wanted to show ice cream recipes, they used mashed potatoes instead?

This is because real ice cream melted under the hot TV lights.

It might look luscious on TV, but you probably wouldn't want to eat it!

More Ice Cream Facts: Famous Names in Unexpected Places

Banana Sundae

Image via giphy.com

Ice cream history is filled with clever inventors and savvy entrepreneurs. But sometimes people famous for other reasons pop up where we least expect them!

Assorted Flavor Ice Creams

Ice cream facts #20: Make his day

You might know that actor Clint Eastwood served as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California from 1986 to 1988.

But did you know why he won?

Well, one thing he was running against was an ordinance that banned the sale of ice cream!

The lesson?

Don't mess with Californians and their ice cream!

Ice cream facts #21: Ice cream and the Iron Lady

The formidable Margaret Thatcher was Britain's prime minister from 1979 to 1990. During her rule, many described her as the most powerful woman in the world.

But, did you know she is also part of ice cream history?

That's right!

Before going into politics, Thatcher was a research chemist. She worked for J. Lyons & Co and was part of a team that helped to develop emulsifiers for soft serve ice cream!

Ice cream facts #22: Million dollar taste buds

Ice Cream licked by Woman

A big ice cream producer like Dreyer's can't afford to put out something that tastes less than perfect.

That's why when they found their expert taster, John Harrison, they insured his tongue for $1 million!

I wonder how much that is per taste bud?

Ice cream facts #23: Our Founding Flavor

Did you know that the first American ice cream recipe was penned by none other than Thomas Jefferson?

It's true!

You can find his recipe here and try it for yourself!

Ice cream facts #25: Washington loved it!

The Father of Our Country loved ice cream so much that in the summer of 1790, he spent $200 to make sure it was always on hand!

How much was would that be today?

Try a cool $5,000!

They Make Ice cream with What?

Ice cream recipes can vary around the world.

A lot more than you might think.

And some of the ingredients may surprise and...er...delight you.

Ice cream facts #26: Can you really sell ice cream to Eskimos?

The short answer is yes.

But you might have to change your ingredients list.

Eskimo ice cream is called Akutaq, and you won't find the ingredients at your local grocery store.

What are they?

Try this:

  • Reindeer fat
  • Seal oil
  • Freshly fallen snow
  • Fresh berries
  • Ground fish

Mix your ingredients by hand until it cools into a foamy...er...delight.

And if you can't find reindeer fat, you can always substitute fat from a moose or polar bear.

Or Crisco. You can also use Crisco.

Ice cream facts #27: It's all about the flavors

Los Angeles area food truck Coolhaus is always trying out new flavors, including candy cap mushroom, brown butter candied bacon, and fried chicken and waffles.

We'll stick with vanilla, thanks.

Eskimos aren't the only ones to...er...experiment with flavors. Enterprising chefs have also made ice cream featuring:

  • Avocado
  • Garlic
  • Azuki bean
  • Jalapeno
  • Pumpkin
  • Dill pickle
  • And more

Ice cream facts #28: In the flesh

Group of white Jelly Fish

If you're ever in Tokyo and feeling adventurous, you can try a few of these flavors:

  • Jellyfish
  • Raw horseflesh
  • Octopus
  • Mamushi (one of Japan's most venomous snakes)

Ice cream facts #29: This one may cause indigestion

One of the ingredients in the first European ice creams was ambergris.

You may also know this as whale vomit.

No, really.

Ambergris is still highly prized today in the fragrance industry. And if you stumble upon it like this boy did, you might even be looking at a small fortune.

But you probably don't want to put it in your ice cream.

Ice cream facts #30: Puts pep in your step

Food inventor Charlie Francis Harris recently invented a blue, champagne-flavored Viagra ice cream.

Zing!

Ice cream facts #31: So cool it's hot

The most popular flavor at Sunni Sky's Homemade Ice Cream in North Carolina is...

Wait for it...

Cold sweat!

It's made with peppers so hot, you have to sign a waiver before they'll sell it to you.

Ice cream facts #32: And the winner is...

Winner

Image via giphy.com

What's the most popular ice cream flavor in the world?

Thomas Jefferson knew.

Are you ready?

It's vanilla!

Surprised?

And the two most popular mix-ins are strawberries and pecans.

Some Random Ice Cream Facts

Some facts don't fit into any specific category -- but once you hear them, you'll wonder how you ever enjoyed America's favorite dessert without knowing them before.

Ice cream facts #33: Correlation is not causation!

In 1940, scientists noticed that there were more cases of polio in the summer than in any other season.

They also noticed that people ate a lot of ice cream in the summer.

The conclusion?

Ice cream causes polio, natch!

Fortunately, with the development of better sanitation and safe childhood vaccinations, polio is all but eliminated.

And ice cream's reputation has been saved!

Ice cream facts #34: The rocky road to flavor

After vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, the next flavor to reach a wide market was Rocky Road.

Rocky Road was invented in 1929 by William Dryer & Joseph Edy. At this point, the two men were working together.

They would part ways, however, 22 years later, and go on to fame and fortune with their own ice cream companies.

What were these companies?

Dryer's and Edy's, of course!

But a third ice cream company, Fenton's, also claims to have invented this delicious combination of chocolate ice cream, marshmallows, and nuts.

Who was the real inventor?

The world may never know.

Ice cream facts #35: Which country is the ice-cream eating champion?

Boy with stripes cap licked the ice cream


Sources disagree.

The two biggest contenders, however, are the United States and New Zealand.

Ice cream facts #36: But who's the real champ?


The crown for America's largest consumer of ice cream would go to the people of Omaha, Nebraska.

Ice cream facts #37: Who is the top ice cream producer?

It's not Wisconsin, and it's not Vermont, despite being the home of Ben & Jerry's.

The world's top ice cream producer is...

...wait for it...


Woman in black holding cone of ice cream

California!

Which is not really that big a surprise, considering California is one of the country's largest producers of dairy, fruit, and nuts.

Ice cream facts #38: How much do we actually need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for ice cream.

But if there was, Americans would probably exceed it.

How much ice cream do we eat every year?

How about an average of 48 pints per person.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a bit full.

Ice cream facts #39: So how about those cows?

Black and White Cow in green grass field

So, assuming you're making ice cream from dairy milk. How much will you need?

Check this:

Depending on your source, it can take between 3 and 12 gallons of milk to make a single gallon of ice cream!

Ice cream facts #40: How cold is it?

Did you know?

The perfect temperature for scooping ice cream is 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ice cream facts #41: Not everyone is impressed

Man wearing jacket

Image via giphy.com

Ice cream producers Ben & Jerry's of Vermont used to feed the leftovers from their ice cream production to their hogs.

What a treat!

Well, it turns out they had some picky piggies.

Their pigs liked most flavors but turned up their snub noses at Mint Oreo Cookie.

Ice cream facts #42: It is too diet food!

Want to lose weight and eat your ice cream, too?

Prevention Magazine claims that calcium-rich foods like ice cream can help you to lose weight.

They even say it can help with symptoms of PMS.

And they believe in it so much, they published The Ice Cream Diet.

A cup of Ice cream

Now, before you scoff, the Ice Cream Diet, like their Peanut Butter Diet, was designed by a registered dietitian.

It doesn't say that you can eat only ice cream. And you certainly can't eat as much ice cream as we all want to.

But you don't have to give it up, either.

Ice cream facts #43: Red, white and blue laws

We can thank the Blue Laws for this one, too.

At one time in Kansas, it was illegal to serve ice cream with cherry pie on a Sunday.

Thank goodness that's no longer the case!

Ice cream facts #44: Oil have some lard with my potatoes

Remember how we told you that TV chefs used to use scoops of mashed potatoes to demonstrate ice cream recipes?

Well, what do you think is in those mouthwatering sundaes you see advertised in commercials?


Go on, we'll wait.

Chances are, you're actually looking at scoops of not just mashed potato, but also lard.

And the sauces?

Often, it's motor oil.

Where's my spoon?

Ice cream facts #45: The scourge of the ice cream lover

If you love ice cream, you've probably had an ice cream headache.

And you've probably hated it.

A lot.

Ice cream headache, aka brain freeze, aka "cold stimulus headache" happens when something super-cold moves across the roof of the mouth to the throat.

The pain is sharp. It comes on fast. And it's no fun at all!

But good news!

To cure ice cream headache, all you have to do is hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth for a few seconds.

The warmth from your tongue will make the pain go away.

Ice cream facts #46: 

If you're *ahem* of a certain age, you may remember the following commercial:

How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie pop?

Several universities undertook studies to find the answer to this pressing question.

The results, found by measuring the efforts of both human volunteers and "licking machines" were far from conclusive. They ranged from a little over 200 to around 900.

On the other hand, the number of licks to get through a scoop of ice cream tends to be a uniform 50.

Ice cream facts #47: It's not really astronaut ice cream

If you've ever traveled to a foreign country, you've probably missed a few favorite foods. Think about how much you'd miss if you went into outer space!

According to NASA, astronauts missed three foods in particular.

Can you guess which ones?

Go on, we'll wait.

First, they missed pizza, of course! The most loved American food aside from hamburgers.

They also missed soda.

But ice cream also made the top three!

So what? You might say. Don't they have freeze-dried astronaut ice cream?

Well, no.

Despite having been a popular novelty in the 1970s and 1980s, freeze-dried "astronaut" ice cream -- that crunchy, styrofoamy...er...treat...never actually made it into outer space.

But you can still buy a number of different kinds of freeze-dried ice cream today, including:

  • Freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches
  • Chocolate chip
  • And good old vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry

Will the next astronauts get the real thing?

Only time will tell.

Ice cream facts #48: Good manners are as important as Good Humor

chocolate coated ice cream

Via Pixabay

The United States isn't the only place with unexpected laws about ice cream.

In Britain, ice cream trucks are only allowed to play music between noon and 7:00 PM.

Also, drivers are only allowed to ring a handbell to get people's attention.

This isn't to prevent Sabbath-breaking, however.

It's because it's just good manners.

Ice cream facts #49: As the saying goes

We've all said it:

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

But where did it come from?

Turns out, it comes from a song written by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert King in 1925.

It was a hit.

Are you surprised?

Ice cream facts #50: The best reason to grab a spoon

Can eating ice cream make you a happier person?

Science says yes!

Neuroscientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London scanned the brains of people eating vanilla ice cream.

What did they find?

Well, they found that doing so immediately activated parts of the brain associated with enjoying yourself.

Well, duh!

Interestingly, the Institute's partner in the study was Unilever, the company that currently owns the iconic ice cream company Ben & Jerry's.

I Scream. Do You Scream?

I Scream Ice cream

Image via giphy.com

Do you love ice cream? Well, brain freeze aside, I think we all do.

It's been a treat for the elite, a pick-me-up for astronauts, and a part of American history from the very beginning. It can also, surprisingly, be part of a healthy diet.

You can buy it at the store, in a restaurant, or you can make your own -- from a surprising number of ingredients.

And now you know more about it than you ever thought possible.

Do you have any ice cream facts to add to our list? Tell us about it in the comments!

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