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Fun Facts About America's Favorite Dessert

We all scream for ice cream—arguably the nation’s most wanted dessert. With warm weather and peak ice cream season on the way, here are some fun facts about America’s favorite frozen treat.

  • The earliest versions of ice cream have been around since the second century B.C., when Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. It was reportedly Marco Polo, in the 16th century, who returned to Italy from his travels with a recipe that closely resembled modern sherbet.
  • The gelato Polo’s recipe engendered was soon being scooped up in England, where it appeared at the table of Charles I, and in France at the table of Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II.
  • The general public got its first taste of the frozen goodness in 1663, when a Sicilian proprietor blended milk, cream, butter and eggs and served it at his Café Procopio, said to be the first café in Paris.
  • Ice cream finally made its way to the New World when Maryland Governor Willima Bladen got wind of it in 1774. By 1777, New York confectioner Philip Lenzi advertised that ice cream was ‘available every day.’
  • George Washington may have been the nation’s first insatiable ice cream eater. Reports indicate he spent some $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. That’s about $5,800 in today’s dollars.
  • Thomas Jefferson, another ice cream lover, developed one of the first recipes for Baked Alaska – and a recipe for cookies to accompany it.
  • Noted ‘hostess with the mostes’ Dolley Madison reportedly served ‘a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation’ in 1813 at President James Madison’s second inaugural banquet at the White House. 
  • We can thank Baltimore milk dealer Jacob Fussell, dubbed the father of American ice cream, for bringing ice cream to the masses. He pioneered the industry around 1889 when he figured out how to insulate ice housesand the rest is history.
  • Today, Americans eat more than 1.3 billion gallons of frozen dairy products every year – that’s almost four gallons annually for every American. One who apparently eats her share is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who recently gave TV host James Corden a peek into her ice cream-filled home freezer.