Ice cream, long beloved by Americans, has a long, even pre-colonial history in the Americas. Some of my Mexican friends have told me that the Aztec emperor Moctezuma (popularly referred to today as Montezuma) had servants climb the snow-capped volcanic mountains for snow to mix with fruit juices as a hot-weather treat.
Image: Could this have been how the Aztec emperor was served his favorite icy dessert made of and served in natural fruit? Source. Cool Stuff Sorbet.
The United States got in on the game early, too. In 1744 Barbara Janssen Bladen, daughter of Lord Baltimore and wife of Proprietary Colonial Governor of Maryland Sir Thomas Bladen, first served ice cream in the American colonies. Ice cream, at that time, was a fashion of the well-heeled.
Click image to watch this Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, video of how ice cream was made during the colonial era.
The sweet treat did not become popular in this country until after the American Revolution, when the Americans had continued contact with the French.
Thomas Jefferson learned how to make ice cream during his tenure in Paris as the United States’ Ambassador to France. He collected many recipes while in France, but ice cream was one of his favorites. In fact, the Library of Congress possesses a copy of a recipe for vanilla ice cream used by Thomas Jefferson written in Jefferson’s own hand.
Many visitors to Monticello, Jefferson’s home in Virginia, recorded enjoying ice cream during their meals there, probably fueling the dessert’s increasing national popularity.
Image: Monticello summer garden party where ice cream was sure to be served. Photo Credit: Jacob J. Gayer, National Geographic, December 1928
Ice cream gets added to the American “melting pot”
Americans’ fondness for ice cream has only increased over the years. Mary Todd Lincoln held berry parties which featured seasonal strawberries and ice cream served on the side.
An American named Abe Doumar is attributed by some as creating the first ice cream cone on July 23, 1904, at the World’s Fair at St. Louis, because the vendor ran out of ice cream dishes to use to serve it and resorted to rolled-up thin waffles. Having a cool container to keep our sweet treats in has certainly helped with our consumption of it.
Image: Children and their mother enjoying the new sensation of ice cream cones at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. Source: Aworldaffair blog.
According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service’s monthly publication Dairy Products, Americans consumed 163,544 pounds of ice cream (that’s hard and soft, full fat and low-fat combined) in May 2013. It seems like we just can’t get enough of the sweet stuff.
I do declare… It’s National Ice Cream Month
Ice cream is such a national institution that Congress passed a Joint Resolution favoring President Reagan’s declaration of July 15, 1984, as National Ice Cream Day and July as National Ice Cream Month. Presidential ice cream promotion continues to the present day.
Image: President Ronald Reagan conceived of National Ice Cream Month. Source: SubZero Ice Cream & Yogurt.
The Senate Inauguration Committee provided the recipe for the sour cream ice cream the White House chefs served at President Obama’s second inauguration. Whether it’s a result of the presidential lead, or simply ice cream’s yummy factor, hungry Americans and the dairy industry continue to celebrate every July as National Ice Cream Month.
Get the scoop and read all about ice cream
If you want to read more about American ice cream production, you can check out the aforementioned Dairy Products title, which reviews American dairy production, including all types of ice cream and frozen yogurt. Find the details of the American ice cream industry in 1997 Economic Census. Manufacturing. Industry series. Ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturing. To do some research about the history of ice cream in America, read some of the many excellent books and electronic resources recommended in this Library of Congress pathfinder.
After all that consumption of ice cream related knowledge (and hopefully, some ice cream), you may find yourself worried about fitting into your trousers. Pick up a poster from the GPO Bookstore of What’s on Your Plate?: Choose My Plate or Que Hay en Su Plato?: Mi Plato. They’ll inspire you to maintain your dietary goals of keeping healthy foods in balance with rich indulgences, such as ice cream.
I’m ready to get a copy of the poster for my office to keep my ice cream fixation in check. But first, if you’ll excuse me, it’s a hot summer day –I have an appointment with a double-scoop cone of Fear the Turtle.
How can I obtain these ice cream-related publications?
- Shop Online: Buy a print edition of these titles on the GPO U.S. Government Online Bookstore
- Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
- Visit our Retail Store: Buy them at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
- Find them in a Library: Search for them in a Federal Depository Library.
Federal Depository Librarians: You can find Dairy Products, Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert Manufacturing, and What’s On Your Plate? at your local Federal Depository library via the cataloging records in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications, or buy them at the GPO Bookstore. You’re likely to find yourself hungry.
- Find the records for these titles in the CGP.
- Find them in a federal depository library.
*Source: Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford, Oxford University Press, c1999.
About the author(s): Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and , GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram.