Apparently, we have President Ronald Reagan to thank for National Ice Cream Day, celebrated annually on the third Sunday in July. His proclamation in 1984—number 5,219 to be exact—describes a “nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over 90% of the population of the United States.” Even though I’ve become suspicious of polls lately, I’ll buy that one.
My friend Iffy loves ice cream. In fact, he has become such a regular customer at one of our local ice cream stands that he gets special treatment—like one of those high-stakes gamblers at a Las Vegas casino who gets his room and meals comped just to ensure there’s more cash left oer for the gaming tables.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American consumes more than twenty pounds of ice cream a year. That’s chump change for Iffy. He’s a daily double scooper who has been known to combine and enjoy two completely different flavors on a single cone. I watch in awe as he licks and bites his way through a scoop of strawberry to get to the chocolate that lies below like the cool thermal layer of fresh water below the sun-warmed surface of the lake. Sometimes, I can even trace his progress by the streaks on his chin. He knows what I’m thinking—the punchline of our favorite joke—and he winks and says, “Nah; it’s just a little ice cream.”
In honor of National Ice Cream Day, I decided to do a little research on the subject. Somewhat to my dismay, I discovered that America’s favorite flavor is—drum roll, please—vanilla. Boring! I prefer a little more zip in my cup, like mint chocolate chip or peppermint or cinnamon. Iffy’s not nearly so picky. Vanilla is fine with him, but then so is strawberry or chocolate or pistachio or peach—I could go on but the Editor says I have to pay attention to my word count.
The problem with ice cream is, of course, what it does to one’s waistline. Somehow, Iffy doesn’t have that problem. I wonder what his secret is. The more I lick, the wider I get, but somehow he manages to find another notch on his belt—not on the loosening side, mind you, but on the tightening end. It’s a mystery and if he would ever sold his secret, he’d be a millionaire overnight.
To make matters worse, Iffy’s sister-in-law makes her own ice cream. She’s good at it, too. That’s just not fair. It’s like being a globetrotter and having one’s own private jet, or being the King of Morocco having your own private golf course. Some people just have all the luck.
It’s rumored that ice cream was invented in China and spread to Europe in the 1500s. (That reminds me of something else that came from China and spread to Europe but for the life of me—so to speak—I can’t think of what that might be.) No one really knows when ice cream came to the shores of the New World but Thomas Jefferson knew how to make it and George Washington reportedly shelled out $200 one summer to scratch his frozen itch. Hmmm; I wonder how much $200 is worth in today’s ice cream dollars. I bet Iffy has got old George beat.
Anyways, it’s a scorcher today and I need a little something to cool me down. I think I know just the thing…
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with a home in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com