What’ll it be? Strawberry, salty caramel nut, cookies and cream, kiwi mango, chocolate mint, peach? Maybe your taste runs to the classics of plain chocolate or the all time favorite, vanilla. My husband preferred vanilla most of the time, however after one of his surgeries he wanted nothing but homemade orange crush ice cream, and in the months before he passed away he was on a Wendy’s chocolate Frosty kick.
Perhaps you tend to the more exotic flavors or even sorbet or gelato. My mother had a penchant for orange sherbet and I remember flagging down the ice cream truck in our neighborhood many times to get her an Orange Pushup. I usually prefer the hand dipped variety over soft ice cream, my all time favorite being Jamoca Almond Fudge, but here lately I’ve been craving a thick malt or ‘blast’ of some kind. I’m not usually one to care one way or the other about having ice cream, unlike my father who had to have his daily bowl [or two] of the frozen confection, but something about this near 100 degree Texas weather has me thinking along these lines.
I remember the excitement of making ice cream as a child in our hand cranked freezer; we each ‘got’ to turn the crank which was part of the charm and novelty of making and eating it. This was a summer activity that took place outdoors under a shade tree. Of course we always had boxes of ice cream in our freezer but somehow it tasted better when we made it ourselves. When we lived in Alaska and had our food flown in once a month we always got two or three flavors in five gallon buckets…my father wasn’t going to chance running out and he loved it even in minus forty degree weather.
I remember when the hand cranked freezer gave way to the electric model. How upscale we felt, and how much easier and quicker it was to have homemade ice cream. A few years after that an electric model which didn’t require the addition of ice or salt, only the freezing of the ingredient bowl came on the market. At one time we even had a refrigerator with an ice cream making attachment in the freezer where after adding the desired ingredients, all the work was done automatically sight unseen. It was a tragic event when lightning struck our refrigerator and rendered it useless along with the magic ice cream maker.
In the summer months when I struggled to find things to keep my small children busy and happy, making ice cream in a rolling can was always a hit. All one has to do is fill a # 10 can with ice and salt after inserting a smaller can filled with the ice cream makings, put a lid on both cans and let the children roll the can back and forth to each other. It’s fun for them as well as a, literally, cool activity. When they get tired of rolling it around, the ice cream is ready to enjoy.
Ice cream’s origins reach as far back as the second century B.C. Alexander The Great enjoyed snow flavored with honey and nectar. During the Roman Empire Nero Claudius Caesar [A.D. 54-86] frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.
A thousand years later Marco Polo returned from the Far East with a recipe that resembled what we now call sherbet. England seemed to have discovered ice cream at the same time as the Italians. “Cream Ice” as it was called was enjoyed regularly by the royalty. It wasn’t until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public.
The first official account of ice cream in the New World was at the table of Maryland Governor, William Bladen. The first advertisement for ice cream appeared in The New York Gazette on May 12, 1777. George Washington spent $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. A frozen strawberry confection was served at President Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration and he had his own special vanilla ice cream recipe.
It wasn’t until 1851 that ice cream could be enjoyed by more than the elite because of technological innovations of making, storing and distribution. Ice cream became an edible morale symbol during World War Two. In 1945 the first ‘floating ice cream parlor’ was built for sailors in the western Pacific and commanders of different troops tried to outdo each other in offering their troops more flavors than the others. When the war ended and restrictions of dairy products was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. In 1946 an average of 20 quarts per person was consumed. Today the amount Americans consume exceeds 1.6 billion gallons annually.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. So what’ll it be, what’s your poison…er favorite? And how will you enjoy it…in a bowl, in a cone, on a stick, between two cookies, blended in a cup, in a float, on a piece of pie, with sprinkles or just…plain? The flavors are as endless as my memories of this sweet frozen treat. Go ahead, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to indulge your passion for ice cream, it’s summer….and that about sums it up, nothing else needs saying.