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11 Tasty Tidbits for National Ice Cream Day

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In 1984, President Ronald Reagan decreed that July would be National Ice Cream Month. And on the third Sunday of July—yes, that's today—we celebrate National Ice Cream Day. Here are 11 fun facts to help you celebrate the occasion.

1. ROMAN EMPEROR NERO MAY HAVE BEEN AN EARLY FAN.


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Though his sanity has often been called into question, some sources have claimed that Nero helped spark the evolution of present-day ice cream. The emperor allegedly ordered his slaves to bring ice from nearby mountaintops on hot summer days before mixing it with fruits and honey. If the story is true, this treat was among the first frozen snacks known to history.

2. MARTHA WASHINGTON USED TO SERVE ICE CREAM TO HER GUESTS AT MOUNT VERNON.

Prior to the invention of refrigeration, ice cream was a rather expensive dessert. Our nation's first president is rumored to have once spent $700 on the delicacy in New York City over the course of one summer. Sharing her husband's zeal, Martha acquired a “cream machine for ice” in 1784.

3. THE FIRST HOME ICE CREAM MACHINE WAS INVENTED IN THE 1840S.


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Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia created the hand-cranked device in 1843, revolutionizing the distribution and sale of ice cream throughout the United States and Canada.

4. THE ICE CREAM CONE WAS POPULARIZED AT THE 1904 ST. LOUIS WORLD'S FAIR.

While metallic and paper cones had been used by ice cream-eating Europeans for more than a century beforehand, Syrian immigrant and waffle salesman Ernest Hamwi has generally been credited with inventing the first edible ice cream cone at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair when a nearby vendor ran out of serving dishes, and the creation sparked a nationwide sensation. However, while Hamwi most certainly did a great deal to popularize ice cream cones at the aforementioned festival, he's no longer cited as their inventor due to a recent reanalysis, which dates them back to 1894.

5. ICE CREAM FLOATS WERE CREATED WHEN A SODA SHOP OWNER RAN OUT OF REGULAR CREAM.

Yet another Philadelphian entrepreneur by the name of Robert Green would regularly mix syrup and cream into his carbonated beverages in the last decades of the 1800s. Legend has it that on one fateful day, he ran out of these regular ingredients and used ice cream as a substitute, creating the first ice cream soda in the process. One of the beverage's biggest fans was none other than Will Rogers, who exclaimed after first tasting one, “You will think that you have died and gone to heaven!”

6. BEN AND JERRY ONLY DECIDED TO MAKE ICE CREAM BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T AFFORD A BAGEL MACHINE.


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You can read the full story here.

7. YOU CAN BUY SQUID ICE CREAM IN JAPAN.

Octopus and ox tongue are also among the many weird and wonderful flavors one can enjoy in the land of the rising sun.

8. AFTER THE U.S., NEW ZEALAND IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST ICE-CREAM-CONSUMING NATION.

Kiwis may trail Americans in ice cream devouring, but they rank above Australians, Danes, and Belgians, all of which crack the global top 10 list.

9. A 2012 STUDY FOUND THAT THE BRAIN OF AN ICE CREAM LOVER BEARS A STRIKING RESEMBLANCE TO THAT OF A COCAINE ADDICT.


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The study—which was launched at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition—found that when the brain craves ice cream and other high-fat/high-sugar foods, it reacts in the same way as a cocaine user's does in a period of withdrawal.

10. LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA CONSUMES MORE ICE CREAM THAN ANY OTHER U.S. CITY.

In 2012, after an exhaustive survey of regional credit card transactions throughout the nation, researchers found that, “Long Beachers eat ice cream a whopping 268 percent more than the average American." Fort Worth and Dallas also scored well above average when it comes to devouring ice cream.

11. ICE CREAM TRUCK JINGLES ARE A LOT MORE DIVERSE THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT.

“I Scream, You Scream” has hardly had a monopoly on the music blared by these beloved vehicles over the years. Other popular jingles include “La Cucaracha,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” and Scott Joplin's “The Entertainer.” But not everyone has been amused by this musical repertoire: In 2010, a Wichita, Kansas resident petitioned the city council to tighten their restrictions on ice cream truck jingle volume: “I'm not anti-ice cream," the resident said. "I just don't think they need to play the music that loud and that often. It's obnoxious.”

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Courtesy New District
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Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
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Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.

PICKLEBACK HISTORY, AS WE KNOW IT

As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.

THE PICKLEBACK'S UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.

SO, WHY PICKLES?

Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.

WAYS TO PARTAKE

While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.

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