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Ice cream gets its day

Photo by Rachel Heidenry | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008-

Chocolaty and lemony;
Vanilla-y and raisin-y,
Marshmallow-y; rum butter-y,
So good, it's almost scary-y.

Cherry-y; peach cobbler-y,
Hot fudge-y and blackberry-y,
I'd love to hold it longingly,
If it wasn't so darn melty-y.

Banana-y and almond-y,
Fudge Ripple-y; strawberry-y,
There's nothing quite so yummerly,
As ice cream in your tummerly.

— Bill Smith

The Missouri History Museum will be joining ice cream purveyors throughout the U.S. this weekend in celebration of National Ice Cream Day. The Saturday afternoon event (July 19) will feature ice cream storytelling, free ice cream treats, music and an appearance by Norton the NorthStar Ice Cream Penguin (a black and white flightless bird, not to be confused with the St. Louis Cardinals' Fredbird).

Activities are set for 1 to 4 p.m. at the museum at 5700 Lindell Boulevard in Forest Park.

On Sunday (July 20), the actual day designated as National Ice Cream Day, the Serendipity Homemade ice cream store will be hosting an all-day series of events at 8130 Big Bend Blvd.

Activities there, from noon to 9 p.m., will include hourly ice cream specials, hula-hoop contests, a balloon artist clown, live music and a rock-paper-scissors tournament.

Information for the history event is available by calling 314-746-4599. Persons interested in additional information on the Serendipity event may call 314-962-2700.

President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month in 1984 and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day.

Ice Cream's Special Place

St. Louis has a special place in ice cream history, albeit a sometimes controversial one, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. While the association says that Italian immigrant Italo Marchiony of New York patented the first ice cream cone in 1903, the new treat was popularized by Syrian concessionaire Ernest A. Hamwi at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.

As the story goes, Hamwi noticed that a nearby ice cream vendor had run out of dishes and offered him a rolled waffle-like pastry as a substitute. Fairgoers and, before long, America, embraced the new dessert.

A few facts about ice cream from the International Dairy Foods Association and the state of Missouri:

* The origins of ice cream can be traced to the second century B.C. Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that resembled what is now sherbet. And records show that George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790.

* The total U.S. production of ice cream and related frozen desserts is about 1.6 billion gallons a year. Sales in 2006 reached nearly $23 billion.

* The biggest U.S. producer of ice cream and related frozen desserts in 2006 was California, followed by Texas, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

* Earlier this year, a group of schoolchildren helped push through legislation that made the ice cream cone the official dessert of Missouri.