We all scream for ice cream this month

Published 11:00 pm Friday, July 6, 2012

A couple of years ago, on a hot July night, we were setting up tables at Franklin Fields to feed our boys after baseball practice. It was tournament season, and practices ran late. The boys were hot and hungry when they finished, and the moms made sure they had plenty to eat.

One night, Laura Hixon brought a treat: homemade ice cream. It was cold and tasty (flavored with fresh peaches) and the boys headed straight for dessert, bypassing everything else.

They were hot and sticky, but that ice cream was just the ticket for cooling them off. And soon a tradition was born. The parents treated the boys to chocolate ice cream (that tasted just like a Wendy’s Frosty); vanilla; even more peach ice cream that summer.

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After all, it was summer … and what better way to mark summer than with baseball and homemade ice cream?

I thought about that ice cream this week, as I read a press release about National Ice Cream Month.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared July to be National Ice Cream Month and set aside the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.

As if we needed only one day, or one month, to commemorate ice cream.

Consider these fun facts from the esteemed International Ice Cream Association:

• Ice cream is an $11 billion retail industry.

• America is the ice cream capital of the world, producing more than 1.5 gallons of ice cream per year.

• Each American consumes around 22 quarts of ice cream a year.

• Vanilla is the most popular flavor in the U.S., pulling in 20-29 percent of all ice cream sales.

• Chocolate comes in a distant second, with about 9 percent to 10 percent of the market.

• Children ages 2 to 12 and adults over 45 eat the most ice cream per person.

• One out of every five ice cream eaters admit to binging in the middle of the night.

• Men binge more in the middle of the night than women.

• One out of every five ice cream eaters shares their frozen treat with their dog or cat.

• Premium ice cream is the most popular with consumers, but it has a higher fat content than regular ice cream.

• Ice cream sandwiches and fudge sticks are the most popular ice cream novelties.

• Pecans are the most popular nut and strawberries are the most popular fruit added to ice cream.

• Frozen yogurt is resurging in popularity, as is no-sugar-added ice cream.

• About 9 percent of all the milk produced in the United States is used to produce ice cream.

While I’m not sure about sharing ice cream with dogs and cats (although given the option I’m certain our Springer Spaniel would be glad to clean the bowl), I am glad to know we’re “typical” Americans when it comes to our ice cream habits. Vanilla rules in our house, although you will often find a pint of coffee-flavored ice cream or some decadent Ben and Jerry’s concoction in the freezer.

And the ice cream maker bowl is always stored in the freezer, on standby, ready to whip up a batch of homemade goodness.

Especially on hot summer evenings …

Stacy Graning is publisher of The Messenger. Contact her at stacy.graning@troymessenger.com.