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I Scream, You Scream, Here's a Few Facts About Ice Cream

You know it's a great summertime treat: cold, sweet, and delicious. But did you know this about ice cream (and other frozen delights)?

* Americans are the ice-cream-eating-est people in the world. In 1994, each person in the United States consumed 16.1 pounds of the sweet stuff. Australians came in second.

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* Water ice, the precursor to ice cream, is thought to have been invented by the Roman emperor Nero. The story goes that Nero sent slaves from Rome into the nearby mountains to get snow to mix with fruit, honey, and wine.

* Vanilla is the most popular flavor. One out of 4 ice creams sold is vanilla.

* One of the major ingredients in ice cream is air. In fact, 10 to 25 percent air is desirable. The ice cream mix must be beaten as it freezes to incorporate air. Without it, ice cream would be rock solid and unscoopable!

* The world's largest ice cream bar was made in Kalisz, Poland. The giant bar weighed 19,357 pounds and took 11 days to make in September 1994.

* The "Popsicle" was originally the "Epsicle," named after its originator, Frank Epperson. He accidentally left a glass of lemonade with a spoon in it on a windowsill one very cold night.

* In World War II, it was reported that US airmen put cans of ice cream mix in the rear gunner's compartments of B-29s. The airmen claimed that the freezing temperatures of high-altitude flight, and the plane's vibrations, made great ice cream!

* Astronauts take freeze-dried ice cream on space missions. In freeze-drying, most of the water in the ice cream is removed. Freeze-drying makes the ice cream lightweight and eliminates the need for refrigeration. (It also eliminates cold drips running down your hand.)

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* There is some dispute over who invented the ice cream cone, but it is known that the cone quickly gained popularity at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. The first ice cream cones were called "World's Fair Cornucopias."

* When Robert N. Green ran out of cream for a drink made with flavored syrup, soda water, and cream, he substituted ice cream, and the ice cream soda was born in 1874.

* The hand-cranked ice cream machine was invented by Nancy Johnson in 1846. Unfortunately, she never patented her device, and William G. Young registered it with the US Patent Office in 1848.

* Hand-cranked ice cream makers use a mixture of ice and salt to draw heat from the ice cream mix, which subsequently freezes. Commercially, automated machines use liquid ammonia as the heat-drawing agent.

* Jacob Fussell turned his dairy business into the first wholesale ice cream factory in 1851. We've been enjoying commercially available ice cream ever since.

* If you'd like to send a 'virtual' ice cream sundae to a friend via e-mail, check out this Web site:

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