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Sweet History of America’s Obsession with Ice Cream Revealed

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When the weather heats up, people naturally crave the refreshing coolness of ice cream. With a growing variety of flavors and products, ice cream is no longer just a summer treat, but a dessert enjoyed all year round. Despite the stereotype that even a small amount can lead to significant weight gain, ice cream remains popular. Now, let’s discuss the history of ice cream and its current consumption patterns.

What is ice cream?

Ice cream is a dessert made by freezing a milk base sweetened with sugar and other sweeteners. When people think of ice cream, the first thing that comes to mind is soft serve, but sherbets and hard-frozen bar-type products also fall under the category of ice cream. In Korea, ice-based desserts similar to ice cream, such as shaved ice and naengmyeon, were traditionally enjoyed in winter, not summer. The ability to enjoy ice cream in the summer is a relatively recent development due to the advent of refrigeration technology.

History of Ice Cream

In the past, ice cream was a high-class snack enjoyed by royalty and nobility. In times when refrigeration technology like fridges did not exist, it was too difficult for the general public to enjoy a dessert that needed to be chilled. Records show that people in Persia ate snow during cold winters and that people in China sprinkled honey or fruit juice on ice to eat it about 3,000 years ago. Nero, the Emperor of the Roman Empire, is said to have enjoyed eating crushed perennial snow with honey, nuts, and fruits. Hippocrates even praised ice cream as the elixir of life.

The modern form

The form of ice cream that we enjoy today was established in 18th-century England. Until then, most ice creams were iced sweets. The first dish made using milk cream appeared in 18th-century England, which is said to be the origin of the ice cream we enjoy today. The word ice cream was listed in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1744, and with the rapid increase in grain and dairy product production in England in the 18th century, ice cream began to be consumed in earnest.

Through World War II

Ice cream was essential for soldiers from various countries during World War II. Particularly in the case of the U.S. Navy, where drinking was prohibited during voyages, ice cream was a popular comfort item consumed instead of alcohol in the humid Pacific Ocean. It is said that the U.S. Navy even forbade departures when the ice cream machine was broken. As a result, the United States is still known as the country that loves ice cream the most.

Refrozen ice cream

Ice cream inevitably melts when left at room temperature. Many people refreeze melted ice cream out of necessity, but in this case, they cannot fully enjoy the original texture. This is because the air incorporated during the making of the ingredients escapes. Even if it doesn’t melt, ice cream stored in the freezer for a long time and lost air becomes harder and feels more gritty than smooth.

An enemy of dieting?

Ice cream is often referred to as the enemy of dieting. Various flavorings and fats are added to ice cream for taste, which are the main factors leading to weight gain. The low temperature of ice cream numbs the tongue, so more sugar is contained than other foods to bring out the sweetness, which is also a problem. However, many low-calorie ice creams have indeed been released recently. If you are on a diet, choosing low-calorie ice cream products is best.

Is ice cream better in summer or winter?

Nowadays, ice cream is predominantly enjoyed during the hot summer months. However, it might not be the most effective choice for cooling down. Ice cream is high in calories, and digesting it can raise your body temperature. Eating hot foods might be more beneficial on warm days as they can make the external heat feel less intense. Therefore, eating ice cream in winter could be a wiser choice. It provides a calorie-rich option that helps warm the body from the inside.

Not recommended for quenching thirst

Ice cream is also not recommended for quenching thirst. The sweetness of ice cream increases the concentration of body fluids, and to lower this, the brain triggers thirst. If you eat ice cream when you’re thirsty, you might feel okay for the moment, but soon, you’ll feel thirsty again. It’s not recommended to eat ice cream after exercising. When your throat is dry, it’s better to drink beverages like water for hydration instead of ice cream.

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