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.”

20 Attempts to Describe the Taste of Durian, the World’s Smelliest Fruit

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The durian is a beloved delicacy in Malaysia, Singapore, and other parts of Southeast Asia. Its taste and smell, however, take some getting used to. The creamy fruit is notoriously potent—in fact, it’s so smelly that Singapore’s public transit systems tell passengers not to bring them onto subways or buses. And yet, despite its stinky reputation, it can be found practically everywhere: In curries, cakes, and even ice cream. For visitors, biting into the fruit can be an utterly confusing and contradictory experience. Here are some outsider opinions from the past 400 years.

1. “The flesh is as white as snow, exceeds in delicacy of taste of all our best European fruits, and none of ours can approach it.” —Jacques de Bourges, 17th Century Missionary

2. “Comparisons have been made with the civet cat, sewage, stale vomit, onions, and cheese; while one disaffected visitor to Indonesia declared that the eating of the flesh was not much different from having to consume used surgical swabs.” —The Oxford Companion to Food

3. “Tastes lightly sweet and deeply musky.” —Frommer’s Guide to Malaysia

4. “[I]ts odor is best described as pig-sh*t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.” —Richard Sterling, food writer

5. "To eat it seems to be the sacrifice of self-respect.” —Bayard Taylor, 19th-century Journalist

6. “To anyone who doesn’t like durian it smells like a bunch of dead cats. But as you get to appreciate durian, the smell is not offensive at all. It’s attractive. It makes you drool like a mastiff.” —Bob Halliday, Bangkok-based food writer

7. “Vomit-flavoured custard.” —The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei

8. “The smell of rotten eggs is so overwhelming. I suppress a gag reaction as I take a bite.” —Robb Walsh, food writer

9. “Like all the good things in Nature … durian is indescribable. It is meat and drink and an unrivalled delicacy besides, and you may gorge to repletion and never have cause for penitence. It is the one case where Nature has tried her hand at the culinary art and beaten all the CORDON BLEUE out of heaven and earth.” —a "good friend" of Edmund J. Banfield, Australian Naturalist, as quoted in Banfield's 1911 book My Tropic Isle

10. “[Has a] sewer-gas overtone.” —Maxine E. McBrinn, Anthropologist

11. “Like pungent, runny French cheese … Your breath will smell as if you’d been French kissing your dead grandmother.” —Anthony Bourdain, Chef and Host of Parts Unknown

12. “On first tasting it, I thought it like the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction, but after four or five trials I found the aroma exquisite.” —Henri Mouhot, French Naturalist, in Travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China: Siam, Cambodia, and Laos, During the Years 1858, 1859, and 1860

13. “[Like] eating ice cream in an outhouse.” —As reported in Jerry Hopkins's Strange Foods

14. “I must say that I have never tasted anything more delicious. But not everyone can enjoy or appreciate this strange fruit for the disgusting smell that distinguishes it and that is apt to cause nausea to a weak stomach. Imagine to have under your nose a heap of rotten onion and you will still have but a faint idea of the insupportable odour which emanates from these trees and when its fruit is opened the offensive smell becomes even stronger.” —Giovanni Battista Cerruti, Italian Explorer, in 1908's My Friends the Savages

15. “It tastes like completely rotten mushy onions.” —Andrew Zimmern, Host of Bizarre Foods

16. “Like eating raspberry blancmange in the lavatory.” —Anthony Burgess, Novelist

17. “A rich custard highly flavored with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavor that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes." —Alfred Russel Wallace, 19th-century British Naturalist

18. “You will either be overcome, seduced by its powerful, declarative presence, or reject it outright. And run screaming." —Monica Tan, The Guardian Journalist

19. “Carrion in custard.” —A “Governor of the Straits” quoted in 1903's Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive

20. “Yes, I freely admit that when ripe it can smell like a dead animal. Yes, the fruit is difficult to handle, bearing likeness to a medieval weapon. But get down to the pale yellow, creamy flesh, and you’ll experience overtones of hazelnut, apricot, caramelized banana and egg custard. That’s my attempt at describing durian. But words fail; there is no other fruit like it.” —Thomas Fuller, New York Times Journalist

What Is Nougat?

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iStock.com/InaTs

If you've ever had a Snickers, Three Musketeers, or Milky Way bar, you know what nougat tastes like. The sweet, creamy concoction can range in texture from chewy to fluffy, and it is the star ingredient in many popular candy bars. But aside from being delicious, what is nougat exactly?

In its simplest form, nougat is made of two basic ingredients: egg whites and a sweetener, traditionally sugar or honey. The signature texture comes from how it's prepared. Like a meringue, eggs and sugar are whipped together quickly until the mixture is aerated and stiff.

Nougat predates mass-produced candy bars, with the confection originating in the Middle East around the 8th century. It spread to southern Europe and gained widespread popularity in 17th-century France. Nougat is still a common component in many Middle Eastern desserts today, and torrone, a type of nougat containing nuts like almonds and pistachios, is enjoyed in Italy around Christmastime.

As more large candy companies have embraced nougat, its quality has suffered over the years, with corn syrup often standing in for the sweetener. But you don't need to head to the candy aisle of your local supermarket to get your nougat fix. If you have eggs and honey in your kitchen, you can make nougat at home today.

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