Yup, that’s right! Ice cream has its very own special day in the annual calendar! This year, National Ice Cream Day falls on Sunday, 16th July 2023.
Each year, this day (usually the 3rd Sunday of July) is marked by nations around the world celebrating this joyous occasion dedicated to the sweet and creamy delight that is ice cream, and why not? After all, ice cream brings so much happiness and delight to people of all ages.
Where did the celebration come from?
We have the former U.S. President Ronald Reagan to thank for this special day – in fact, a whole month of celebrations! The 31-day nod to this popular treat came by way of a joint resolution in Congress. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law by proclamation in 1984.
The proclamation (No. 5219) declared;
Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food. Over eight hundred and eighty-seven million gallons of ice cream were consumed in the United States in 1983.
The ice cream industry generates approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. Indeed, nearly ten percent of all the milk produced by the United States dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, thereby contributing substantially to the economic well-being of the Nation’s dairy industry.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 298, has designated July 1984 as “National Ice Cream Month,” and July 15, 1984, as “National Ice Cream Day,” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of these events.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 1984 as National Ice Cream Month and July 15, 1984, as National Ice Cream Day, and I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eightyfour, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.
The holiday was established to recognise the importance of ice cream as a cherished dessert and to celebrate its cultural significance. Since then, the celebration has spread to other countries, including the United Kingdom, where ice cream holds a special place in the hearts of many.
Ice Cream’s History
The Persian Empire was known to put snow in a bowl, pour concentrated grape juice over it, and eat it as a treat thousands of years ago. They would climb to mountain tops and harvest the snow from their peaks in the summertime. They would then keep the snow in underground chambers, known as a yakhchal, to keep it cold from the earth.
Around 697 AD, the Chinese in the Tang Dynasty took to freezing dairy with salt and ice. Although the invention of ice cream dates back thousands of years, many culinary businesses give credit to Antonio Latini from Naples, Italy, who created a milk-based sorbet in the 17th century.
In the U.S., the first ice cream shops were opened by the Quaker Colonists, who brought their ice recipes with them to the new world.
Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were among those who enjoyed the treat. It is known that in 1813, First Lady Dolley Madison served ice cream at the Inaugural Ball.
In 1832, African American confectioner Augustus Jackson created multiple ice cream recipes and a superior technique to manufacture ice cream. And in 1843, the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer was granted to Philadelphian Nancy Johnson.
For more history on Ice Cream see our post – Which Country Invented Ice Cream
Popularity of Ice Cream
According to the International Dairy Foods Association: ‘The average American eats roughly 20 pounds of ice cream each year, or about 4 gallons. As the summer reaches peak temperatures in July, Americans celebrate National Ice Cream Month as a way to cool off and enjoy the nation’s favourite frozen treat with friends and family. Ice cream has historically been a key feature of American communities. According to an IDFA survey, most ice cream companies are family-owned and have been in operation for more than 50 years!
Ice cream companies help support the U.S. economy, contributing more than $13 billion directly to the national economy and supporting nearly 29,000 direct jobs that generate $1.8 billion in direct wages, according to IDFA’s Dairy Delivers®. In 2021, ice cream makers in the U.S. churned out more than 1.3 billion gallons of ice cream.’
A Delectably, Delightful, Dessert Tradition
Having a day dedicated to ice cream invites people of all ages to indulge in their favourite frozen treat and bask in the sheer bliss that ice cream brings. From classic flavours to exotic creations, National Ice Cream Day is a celebration of the beloved dessert that has captured hearts and taste buds for generations.
There aren’t many things more satisfying than some sweet, velvety ice cream, especially during the sweltering summer months (well, here in the UK, we can only imagine).
Thanks to National Ice Cream Day, ice cream lovers will have the best excuse (not that we really need one) to fill their tummies with scrumptious scoops while celebrating this delectably, delicious frozen celebration.
One of the true pleasures of National Ice Cream Day is that ice creams are becoming increasingly adventurous, giving rise to new and exciting flavour combinations and innovative textural inclusions which for the ice cream enthusiast provides the opportunity to explore an abundance of flavours and taste sensations.
Artisanal ice cream makers craft their frozen creations with care, blending high-quality ingredients to create a delicious combination of flavours that ignite the taste buds and bring smiles to faces.
Supporting Local Artisans
National Ice Cream Day provides a wonderful opportunity to support local ice cream artisans and small businesses too. Many independent ice cream parlours and producers showcase their delicious creations, offering an abundant array of flavours, toppings, and homemade desserts.
By indulging in these frozen treats, ice cream lovers not only satisfy their cravings but also contribute to the growth and success of these local businesses.
Family Fun and Togetherness
National Ice Cream Day is a celebration that brings families and friends together. It’s a time to create cherished memories while sharing the simple pleasure of enjoying ice cream. Parents can watch with happiness as their children’s faces light up with each lick, and friends gather to exchange stories and laughter over shared sundaes.
Ice cream has a unique way of fostering a sense of joy, togetherness and nostalgia. Who doesn’t love hearing that ‘chime’ in the distance of the Ice cream van approaching?
The Joy of Homemade Creations
For those with a creative streak, National Ice Cream Day is an opportunity to unleash their culinary skills and create homemade ice cream masterpieces. Families can gather in kitchens, armed with ice cream makers, fresh fruits, and an assortment of toppings, experimenting with flavours and concocting their own frozen delights.
There are no limits to the flavour combinations and the toppings that can be added. It can be a time for laughter, teamwork, education and discovery, all with the added anticipation of tasting the fruits of their labour.
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainable practices and conscious consumption. National Ice Cream Day is an occasion to highlight the importance of sustainable choices within the ice cream industry. From sourcing local ingredients to using eco-friendly packaging, many ice cream producers are committed to minimising their environmental impact. By supporting these eco-conscious brands, ice cream enthusiasts can enjoy their favourite treat with a sense of environmental responsibility.
A Treat for All
National Ice Cream Day is an inclusive celebration that caters to diverse dietary needs and preferences.
With very many dietary needs and the ever-changing landscape of food intolerances, ice cream embraces a range of options, including vegan ice creams made from plant-based ingredients, lactose-free ice cream alternatives for those with dietary restrictions, and gluten-free options for individuals with sensitivities.
With this inclusivity, National Ice Cream Day ensures that everyone can partake in the joy and deliciousness of this frozen delight.
National Ice Cream Day is a day of ice cream indulgence—a celebration of the frozen treat that brings joy, nostalgia, and togetherness. From the first lick to the last spoonful, ice cream captivates our senses and evokes a sense of happiness and joy.
As the third Sunday of July approaches each year, let’s gather with friends and family, supporting local artisans, exploring flavours, and savouring the simple pleasure of a scoop of ice cream. On this special day, in fact, let’s extend it for the whole month, may we all indulge in the delicious and healthful sweetness that ice cream brings and create lasting memories that will warm our hearts long after the last lick has melted away.
We hope you enjoyed your National Ice Cream Day.
Please share with us what you did to celebrate the day by leaving us a comment below.
- Did you know? Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream is believed to be the oldest recipe for ice cream in the USA. His original recipe is housed in the Library of Congress.
Want more ‘did you know’ facts about ice cream? Head on over to our The Fascinating World of Ice Cream! post.