Thursday, July 14, 2011

National Ice Cream Month!!

I’m only going to say this once, because something so significant does not require repeating:

July is the national ice cream month.

This means that while we flipped our calendars and watched fireworks and wondered how it got so very hot all of a sudden, we really should have been sitting around, each with our own tub of ice cream and a nice, sturdy spoon. It’s practically the patriotic thing to do.

In 1984, a very wise president Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month, and the third Sunday of that month being National Ice Cream Day.

He said something along the lines of, “it’s good for you, and it’s a fun food! Eat up, America.” The figures pointed out that 90% of Americans at that time enjoyed partaking in the frozen dairy delight, so I can only extrapolate that of every 10 people reading this, only one should not have a blob of chocolate sauce on his or her shirt by the time you reach the end.

Statistics show that of all of the age groups, children between the ages 2 and 12 and adults over the age of 45 eat the most ice cream. This figure is something I completely understand, because looking at my own family it is absolutely true. The older crowd is no shock. My parents and grandparents have been ferocious ice cream sneakers (“oh, just a little late night snack…”) for as long as I can remember. My mother: black cherry. My grandfather: butter pecan. Some things never change.

And my children eat way more ice cream than I do, mostly because my hands are so tired after scooping perfectly even balls of hard-as-rock ice cream into matching bowls, and then running around collecting sauces, sprinkles, and spoons before the ice cream turns into soup. I’m just to pooped to scoop for myself, although I admit licking the spoon. Plus if you figure in the dreaded ice cream man, who plays his mystical, hypnotizing music that would wake a child from a dead sleep and within milliseconds begin begging their parents for a few bucks, it’s no doubt that kids eat more ice cream than their weary mothers.

But if childhood doesn’t contain ice cream, something is missing. There’s undeniably something special about the nostalgia of sitting on a front porch eating a cone with vanilla streaming down your chin and all over your hands. I have ice cream memories engrained in my head and my heart like strawberry sauce on a white shirt. They’re indelible, and I have no hope of ever getting rid of them.

And the best part is that memories seem to come to life when the sense of smell or taste is involved, and all I need is one bite of a hot fudge sundae, and I’m right back in my hometown, sitting next to my Grandpa on a Tuesday night at the local ice cream parlor. A single nibble of a cookie coated ice cream bar, and I’m sitting at my lunch table in elementary school, eating as fast as I can before recess starts. A scoop of good old vanilla bean, and I’m about nine years old, sitting in my living room and watching Bugs Bunny after school.

So go ahead, reach into your freezer or stick your head out the window and listen for the ice cream man to lure you in like a siren of the sea, and belly up to America’s favorite frozen treat. If you’re young, enjoy the worry-free calories. If you’re old, don’t sweat it. If you’re in the middle, think of the duty to your country you’re doing by supporting our dairy industry and being patriotic.

Or if you’re more of a cone person, you should know it takes, on average, 50 licks to polish off a regular cone. It’s your American obligation to put it to the test before it’s time to flip the calendar again.

Check back tomorrow for a recipe-- Ice cream in a plastic bag. Fantastic summer fun, and pretty delicious, too!

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