Did you know that while there is no exact origin date of ice cream, there are counts of ice cream reaching as far back as the second century B.C.? Alexander the Great was known to enjoy ice flavored with honey and nectar, there are references showing King Solomon indulging in iced drinks during harvesting, and during the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar frequently appreciated snow flavored with fruits and juices.

However, it was not until over one thousand years later that a recipe closely resembling sherbet emerged, and historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century. “Cream ice” appeared regularly at the table of Charles I in England and was introduced to France in 1553 by Henry II’s wife Catherine de Medici. It was not until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public; and thank goodness it was!

In America, the first official count of ice cream came from a letter in 1744, and the first advertisement for ice cream appeared in the New York Gazette in 1777 as a confectioner announcing that ice cream was available “almost every day.” According to merchant records, in the summer of 1790, President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream, and it is documented that President Thomas Jefferson created an 18-step ice cream recipe. Click here to see his handwritten vanilla ice cream recipe! In 1813, Dolley Madison, former first lady, served ice cream at President Madison’s second inaugural banquet at the White House.

Beginning in 1851, manufacturing ice cream became an industry in America, and as technological innovations increased, so did the ice cream production and creations. In 1874, the ice cream soda was invented and in the late 1890s, the ice cream sundae emerged. During World War II, each branch of the military attempted to outdo the others in how they served ice cream to its troops. When the war ended, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. There were over 20 quarts of ice cream consumed per person in 1946.

Today, due to continued advances, the United States produces more than 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream annually, and the average American eats 19.7 pounds of ice cream per year. Most commonly, ice cream is purchased through grocery stores and the most popular procured size is a half-gallon.


Fun Ice Cream Facts:

  • Vanilla is the most popular flavor
  • It takes roughly 50 licks to finish an ice cream cone
  • California produces the most ice cream in the United States
  • The biggest ice cream sundae weighed 24 tons
  • The ice cream cone was invented during the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis
  • Chocolate ice cream was created before vanilla



This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.