Scoopin’ All Over the World: An International Love for Ice Cream
By Shoshanna Delvanthal
If there’s one thing that bonds humankind, it’s our universal love for ice cream. There’s just nothing quite like the smile on someone’s face when they’re about to devour a melting, creamy cone of greatness. Ice cream is timeless, classic and ignites a priceless joy deep down at our core.
However, most travelers take advantage of the international ubiquity of the dessert. In reality, there’s much more behind the history, science and regionality of the trade. Here’s the scoop.
The History of Ice Cream
The mysterious history of the invention of ice cream has boggled historians for centuries. Most accept the view that the delicious dessert has been enjoyed as far back as the second century B.C.
We can imagine Alexander the Great raving over the innovative flavor of the time: honey and nectar. Italy’s Marco Polo was a sherbet enthusiast. The Roman Empire’s Caesar (A.D. 54-86) sent his slaves into the snow-covered mountains in order to qualm his iced treat addiction.
The ice cream gospel quickly made its way to U.S. soil. Records kept by a New York merchant show that President George Washington indulged in about $200 worth of ice cream during the summer of 1790. And President Thomas Jefferson had his own 18-step ice cream recipe.
In time, ice cream consumption penetrated the entire market, no longer consisting of only the privileged elite. The masses around the world, particularly in the United States, made ice cream an integral part of their celebrations and every day lives.
Although the origins of ice cream’s journey to America are shady, the sweet success of the business is truly an American staple.
Ice Cream in the USA
Yes, we eat ice cream year-round. However, it's obviously the summer season that brings about the largest consumption of ice cream. Particularly, the month of July stands out as National Ice Cream Month, ordered by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Supporting local Mom-and-Pop shops, the ice cream business consists of mostly family-owned manufacturers who’ve been participating in the trade for over 50 years.
About 10% of all the milk produced in the United States will go straight to ice cream production. Without ice cream, both our dairy industry and our sweet tooth would be in trouble.
What’s the Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream Anyway?
Tomato, tom-ah-to, right? The answer’s not as clear cut as you may imagine. Even to us self-proclaimed ice cream connoisseurs, the multifaceted discussion will overpower your entire conversation at the gelateria.
Which is better? That’s an incredibly loaded topic, and we’ll leave the answer to each individual. However, before we set you off arguing the merits of the two, let’s take a step back and evaluate the bittersweet debacle we’ve found ourselves in.
At large, most consider gelato to be ice cream’s more dense, milky and elastic-textured sister. On the other hand, traditional American ice cream has that mouth-watering rich and creamy delectable taste that brings about memories of the Fourth of July fireworks.
Let’s dissect the science behind this brain-boggling question.
American’s stick to their motto; “the flavor’s in the fat.” We churn out the sweet stuff using a cream base, resulting in a fat content of at least 10 percent. Gelato is made with more milk and contains distinguishably less egg yolk.
Here in the USA, we love getting things done quickly. We churn our cream faster and quicker, adding airy volume to our dessert in the process (25-90%). The Europeans take their characteristic leisurely approach to the production process. The slower churning process creates a denser, and in particular instances, a more flavorful end product.
It’s Getting Hot in Here
American style ice cream loves the chiller atmosphere, at about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Gelato on the other hand, wants to get a nice summer bronze, best enjoyed at a temperature of about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. If ice cream decided to jump on that bandwagon, we’d all be drinking a curiously savory summer soup.
What’s certain, around the world, no one’s above ice cream for dinner, whether you’re ruler of the Holy Roman Empire or the president of the United States.
Regardless of whether you prefer frozen yogurt, gelato, sherbet, or your classic American vanilla ice cream cone, ice cream’s one hell of a humbling, magnificent indulgence.
So grab a bowl, or a cone, and share a treat that’s been a signature of our shared human nature for a millennia.