10 interesting facts about ice cream around the world

10 interesting facts about ice cream around the world

Fun facts


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#NationalIceCreamDay is coming! Get the scoop on how ice cream is eaten and celebrated around the world with these 10 fun facts

Everyone loves ice cream, especially on a hot summer’s day, which is why National Ice Cream Day in the US this year is July 17. To mark the occasion, we’ve got 10 interesting facts about the frozen milky treat — from its invention to how it’s eaten across the world today, and even some of the strangest things that have been done to it. Grab your spoon and let’s dig in!

Ice cream was invented in China

Woman holding a cone of pink ice cream in a city at night — ShutterstockYou might not have thought that it’s China we need to thank for gelato — Shutterstock

Many of us might assume that ice cream originated in Italy, due to the reputable richness of proper Italian gelato. In fact, ice cream made specifically with milk, the concept that we know of today, was a Chinese concoction from around 200 CE. It was brought to Europe (via Italy) over 1,000 years later by explorer Marco Polo.

July is National Ice Cream Month

In 1984, in recognition of the American people’s penchant for the dessert, US president Ronald Reagan declared July National Ice Cream Month, with National Ice Cream Day to be celebrated on the third Sunday. Interestingly, Sunday is also the day of the week on which people consume the most ice cream, which by some extension, is believed to be the etymology of the word ‘sundae’.

New Zealand consumes the most ice cream per capita

Mountainous landscape of New Zealand with grazing cows in foreground — ShutterstockNew Zealand is known for its high-quality dairy products — Shutterstock

It bats back and forth between a few nations from year to year, but in 2022, the title for the most avid ice cream eaters in the world goes to the people of New Zealand. The average Kiwi consumes 28.4 liters of the stuff in a year, which is a testament to the high quality of dairy products for which the country is renowned.

Other countries of ice cream lovers include the US, where an impressive 20.8 liters are eaten per capita; and Australia, where each person puts away 18 liters.

Iran makes noodle ice cream

Faloodeh is a unique Iranian dessert with its origins way back in the Persian Empire, consisting of starch vermicelli noodles semi-frozen in a mixture of rose water and syrup. It sounds pretty Middle Eastern — the flavor combination not being too far off that of baklava and Turkish delight — and to top it off, this sorbet-like treat is garnished with lime juice, saffron, or naturally, chopped nuts.

It takes a weighty 12 pounds of milk to make one gallon of ice cream

(Or, if you’re imperial-illiterate, 5.4 kilograms to make 4.5 liters.) Not a particularly worldly fact, but just for fun, consider this…

A single cow can produce 64 pounds of milk in one day. This means that, if you had just one cow, you could open up a small ice cream shop and sell up to 5.3 gallons of goodness each day.

Nature’s own ice cream exists in South America

Pacay tree pods — ShutterstockThe “ice cream beans” of the pacay tree — Shutterstock

In the Andean valleys of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela grows the pacay tree, and its fruit tastes exactly like vanilla ice cream. The pod-like growths are filled with dark-colored beans and a sweet, cottony white pulp which is packed with nutrients. There’s even an alcoholic drink made from it called cachiri, which tastes somewhat similar to cider.

A Norwegian company made the biggest ice cream cone ever

They love their ice cream in Norway, and in 2015, ice cream company Hennig-Olsen set a new record for the biggest ice cream cone. The 110-kilogram cone topped with 1,080 liters of ice cream was three meters and eight centimeters in height, and could have provided 10,800 two-scoop servings. What flavor was it? Vanilla with strawberry and chocolate toppings, which seems — let’s be honest — inconsistently ordinary.

Coconut milk ice cream is traditional in Indonesia

Two bowls of Indonesian es puter — ShutterstockEs puter topped with jackfruit and noodle jelly — Shutterstock

Known as es puter, historically, Indonesian coconut milk ice cream came about due to coconuts being more easily available than cow’s milk. It’s completely vegan by coincidence, denser and rougher in texture compared to dairy ice cream, and typically topped with local fruit such as durian, avocado or jackfruit. Don’t forget to try it when you make it to Bali!

Vanilla ice cream is, statistically, the most Instagrammable

It’s unsurprising that classic vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor around the world, and it probably will be forever. But last year, some indulgent research found that despite its plain appearance, it even goes so far as being the most Instagrammed flavor. Hashtags containing the words ‘vanilla ice cream’ totaled 439,108 at the time of the research.

Bright green matcha (that’s more like it) came in second with 315,714 hashtags, only just overtaking chocolate with 301,979.

You’ll find some of the weirdest ice cream flavors in Japan

While vanilla is universally inoffensive, the Namjatown indoor amusement park in Tokyo features a joint called Ice Cream City, where you can sample some bizarre and some downright stomach-churning flavors of ice cream. Don’t be fooled by the adorable presentation — wrap your taste buds around basil, eggplant, oyster, eel, beef tongue, or even “coal” and “Indian curry” ice cream. In all fairness, this is exactly the kind of thing you’d expect in Japan, the place of the possible.

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