The Inside Scoop on Ice Cream

Ryan Heuchert, Staff Writer

When most people think of a dessert to enjoy in the summertime, ice cream probably comes to mind. This sweet treat is something hundreds of millions of people enjoy around the world every year. This creamy dessert comes in a variety of flavors, toppings and from tons of brands or parlors that make the options seem unlimited. Interestingly, ice cream has dramatically evolved as the world itself has changed. 

Ice cream’s origins are foggy and disputed, but desserts that resemble ice cream existed in ancient times. The International Dairy Food Association says, “Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Biblical references also show that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during harvesting. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.” When he returned from his voyage, Marco Polo had a unique recipe. The International Dairy Food Association states that “the recipe closely resembled what is now called sherbet.” Ice cream would remain a popular delicacy among the elite until 1660 when the dessert was introduced to the public. Some of the United States’ earliest and most prominent presidents loved the sweet treat. The International Dairy Food Association says “Records kept by a Chatham Street, New York, merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. In 1813, Dolley Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President Madison’s second inaugural banquet at the White House.” A waffle vendor made history when he accidentally created the ice cream cone. Strasburg Shoppes, an ice cream parlor in Pennsylvania, says that “at the St Louis World’s Fair in 1904, an ice cream vendor ran out of bowls, so a waffle maker rolled his pastries into the cone shape to help.” In fact, ice cream was so beloved by Americans that an article from Newsweek says that “In 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan designated July as ‘National Ice Cream Month’ and the month’s third Sunday as ‘National Ice Cream Day.’” 

Everyone has their own favorite flavor of ice cream. Some people have a taste for fancier ice creams. Freshman Katherine Banic says her favorite flavor is “Neapolitan because I get three flavors in one.” Some people prefer the classics. Sophomore Mario Araujo says, “My favorite flavor is a nice plain chocolate.” Despite all the flavors available worldwide, data from Grand View Research says that “the vanilla flavor contributed the largest market share in 2022.” A survey put out by Newsweek says that “The most popular flavor among U.S. adults is the classic chocolate ice cream, with around one in six respondents picking it as their favorite flavor. Additional polling… revealed the most popular topping is hot fudge, with 31 percent saying this is their favorite ice cream topping.” Another aspect people debate about ice cream is the best place to get it. Banic says, “I like Ben and Jerry’s the most because they have a lot of variety.” Araujo disagrees. He says, “I like Coldstone Creamery the best. They have so many options.” 

As time has gone on, ice cream has become increasingly popular. Grand View Research says “the global ice cream market size was valued at USD 79.0 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2% from 2022 to 2030.”  IBISWorld adds that “there are 143,058 people employed in the ice cream stores in the U.S as of 2023… an average of a 3.4 percent increase over the five years between 2018 and 2023.” At the same time, however, demands have changed.  Grand View Research adds that “a report published in The Times of India in May 2020, 60% to 65% of the population in India was lactose intolerant. Such a high prevalence of milk intolerance is expected to contribute to the demand for vegan alternatives to conventional foods, including ice creams.” In the United States, people are demanding more natural ingredients in their ice cream. Senior Paige Bryan says that people know ice cream is not healthy for you, and manufacturers want to appeal to people more.” While manufacturers try to produce ice cream with healthier ingredients, and some people search for those types of ice creams, others find alternative treats for cooling off in the summer heat. Junior Aidan McKee says, “A nice piece of watermelon is great in the summertime.”  

Ice cream is a frozen dessert enjoyed all over the world that comes in a range of styles, flavors, and stores. This frozen treat has had a long history of evolution, and there is no doubt that companies, manufacturers, and ordinary people will continue to create new recipes and discover new features to add. For the time being, we can all enjoy a big cone (or bowl) of ice cream on a blistering day in July.