Summertime Favourite Throughout History

As we continue to slog through the warm summer weather, I got to thinking about my recent trip back to the US and the news coverage of President Joe Biden’s well known favourite snack all year long: ice cream. Biden is such a fan that an Ohio based ice cream company developed a flavour in his honour using all of his favourite flavours and toppings.

But Biden isn’t the first US President to be known for his love of this cool sweet treat. The first record of ice cream in the United States was from 1744 in a letter written by a guest of the Governor of Maryland (which happens to be my home state). George Washington was noted to have spent at least $200 USD in one summer on ice cream, which comes out to about $5000 USD today! Thomas Jefferson had his own preferred ice cream recipe and first lady Dolly Madison served strawberry ice cream at the second inauguration of her husband James Madison.

American’s love of ice cream continued into the 19th century with the invention of the soda fountain and ice cream sundae. The 1904 World’s Fair introduced the ice cream cone for enjoying a scoop on the go, which was then further mobilised with the first ice cream trucks in the 1920s out of Youngstown, Ohio. During the Prohibition Years when alcohol was illegal, some major beer breweries such as Anheuser-Busch and Yuengling began to produce ice cream to maintain their profits.

Ice cream then became such an integral part of American life that it served as a source of comfort. During World War I, ice cream was sent to troops stationed overseas not only as a food that was dense in calories and fat to maintain nutrition, but as a reminder of home. When the Great Depression struck, ice cream became a morale boosting treat as it was still relatively low priced and offered a luxury among simpler meals.

Once again, in World War II, ice cream played a significant role in improving morale for soldiers. It is reported that bomber crews would make ice cream while carrying out missions. They could put together the ingredients for ice cream in a bucket, strap the bucket to the rear gunners compartment, and while flying the mixture would be blended by the vibrations and turbulence of the aircraft and frozen at the high altitude. Then, in 1945, the US Navy created an ice cream barge that towed around the South Pacific to distribute ice cream to the troops. The US Army took a different approach with miniature ice cream factories stationed around the front lines so ice cream could be delivered to foxholes. It seems that ingenuity was a helpful tool serve the troops a small taste of home during harrowing times.

Now as we start to prepare for the cooler autumn weather, don’t forget to take some time to enjoy a treat that has been enjoyed around the world for centuries, but has a special place in the history of our World War II servicemen and servicewomen.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, below are links to the sites I used to research this post:

Post by American Scholar Lauren Cortese

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