July Celebrates National Ice Cream Month: A Sweet History from Ancient Rome to Modern America

By Trish Svoboda

July is National Ice Cream Month. Though the precise origin of ice cream is unknown, National Day Calendar said it likely dates back to A.D. 54 to 68, during the time Nero was Emperor of Rome.

The first mention of ice cream in the U.S. appears in a letter by Maryland Governor William Bladen in 1744. Early American presidents also developed a fondness for ice cream. For instance, in the summer of 1790, George Washington spent around $200 on ice cream. Initially, ice cream was a rare and luxurious treat enjoyed mainly by the wealthy.

In 1843, Nancy Johnson patented the hand-cranked ice cream maker. Then in 1851, Jacob Fussell established the first ice cream factory. The introduction of mechanical refrigeration played a crucial role in preserving larger quantities of ice cream. Continued technological advancements made ice cream more readily available to the general public.

On July 9, 1984, National Ice Cream Month was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The proclamation states, “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.”

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