Editors Note: Man does not live by grazing alone, so here’s an important summer time break. Thanks, Troy, for sharing a little history, the delicious pictures, and the joy of supporting local dairies. (This article previously appeared in Lancaster Farming.)
As the sweet locust blossoms of early June attract the bees to its fragrant nectar, so too does the flashing neon-lighted cone sign and the smell of hot fudge entice folks to “all scream for ice-cream.” Jessi Lane Adams sums up this sentiment by honoring the frozen majesty as “ice cream being happiness condensed”.
The history of ice cream has its origins as far back as 400 BC when the Persian people would save snow in cool-keeping underground chambers known as “yakhchal”. Then the poured grape-juice concentrate over snow in a bowl and eat this as a treat, especially when the weather was hot. Through the centuries, this treat morphed out of fruit based ingredients and into using harvested ice mixed with milk, sugar and other irresistible goodies with dedicated recipes appearing in 18th-century England and America. There is even a story going around that Charles 1st of England was so impressed by the “frozen snow” that he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the formula secret, so that ice cream could be a royal prerogative.
In researching my favorite 3-A-Day food, these items caught my fancy: In 1843, Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia was issued the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer; Franklin D. Roosevelt, publicly confessed that he loved to eat ice cream at least once a day; There is more ice cream sold on Sunday than any other day of the week and 98% of all households purchase ice cream, with children ages 2–12, and adults aged 45 and over (acting like children) consuming the most.
As a connoisseur of frozen pleasures, I’ve tried most of the frozen custards, pop-sickles, frozen yogurts, sorbets, sherberts, gelatos, Italian ices, the cryogenic “dippin dots” and even fried ice-cream with much pleasure. However, my taste-buds really dance when the full-fat, real deal passes over the tongue. Now I’m no ice-cream snob but there is really no comparison when one consumes the premium product made with all the butterfat (10%-16%), real sugar, farm fresh eggs and of course—-Love.
To become knowledgeable about the icy confection, one needs to support as many local parlors, dairy cases and ice cream trucks as you have money and time for. Much like a wine tasting, I regularly make a point to stop at different places to see what the mouth-feel will be like. I shy away from the places that have a watered down mix with a high price tag passing it off as good. That’s for the consumer who cares more about quantity than quality. Me, the farmer, I’m in it for the experience.
I have found there is no better experience for enjoying the wonders of frozen than to visit a summer-time ice cream social or get with a bunch of farmers at a pasture walk and have a “churn off”. I’ve been quoted as saying any meeting serving ice cream is a winner whether the content was good or not. If you can’t make friends and have a lively conversation over the frozen dairy paradise topped with chocolate, local berries or brownie, you might as well give it up.
I truly believe this foundation of sharing a frozen dessert would break a lot of gridlock in Washington, D.C and should be used as a chief negotiating tool. I can only imagine the work that could get done over a pint from the Strafford Organic Creamery, Milky Way Dairy Bar, The Roc-Star Dairy Creme, Bonomos Dairy Isle, Zems, Ben and Jerry’s or an ice cream cake from Nicky Doodles in Rome, N.Y. We could even come up with new campaigns whereby dairy princesses could help mitigate national problems: Conflicts solved with Cones, Solutions with Sundaes or my personal favorite——Less Bureaucracy, more Banana Splits.
By now you can see my passion for supporting my local dairy farmers and may wonder what ingesting all these dessert calories may be doing to my BMI (Body mass index). While I can say I’m in the acceptable range according to the chart; and more importantly, my wife, the fact is: It’s not the cream that’s keeping me from the 6 pack abs, it’s writing this piece in lieu of a hearty workout.
I’m ok with this frozen guilt as a small vice, versus let’s say smoking. It certainly perks me up as well as our doggy, when someone mentions we should go check the cows at our leased farm which is basically farmer code for visiting a local ice cream joint. I see enjoying ice cream with the family and people watching at the dairy crème as a stress reliever to a long day.
Oh sure it costs more than going to the grocery but you’re supporting another local business in return. When you see all the kids, young and old, smiling over ice cream it seems to make sense why for centuries people have flocked to this magical treat.
Now, if only someone could just invent a fool-proof way to keep a large soft serve vanilla cone dipped in chocolate from leaking all over my truck on a 90 degree day. It really wouldn’t matter though, whether licking frozen or thawed, my badge of honor on every shirt is the dribble mark of a joyful eating.
“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate”~ Thornton Wilder.