Struth! with David Ellis | May 18

WE’VE  recently got to wondering: will Australians ever put the third Sunday of July into their diaries – like in America, where the day’s been celebrated as National Ice Cream Day for over 30 years.

DREAMY: Why shouldn't we have a day devoted to the cold stuff?

DREAMY: Why shouldn't we have a day devoted to the cold stuff?

And it was by presidential decree. In 1984, ice-cream lovin’ President Ronald Reagan proclaimed July as National Ice Cream month, and its third Sunday as National Ice Cream Day.

Yet bizarrely, despite their size and their presidential decree, Americans are not the world’s biggest consumers per capita of ice cream. Would you believe that title goes to tiny New Zealand? There the locals lick up 28.4 litres per person of the stuff annually, with the Americans in second place at 20.8 litres per person, and Aussies third at 18 litres per head.

Which should be good enough reason for us all to put the third Sunday of July into our diaries for our own personal Ice Cream Day if industry or government won’t do anything about it to make it official.

And incidentally, as far back as 340BC Alexander the Great’s chefs mixed him snow, ice, honey and nectar as a summer cooler, Marco Polo in the late 13th century took home to Italy a Chinese recipe similar to what we now know as sherbet and which eventually evolved into Italian ice-cream, while in England “cream ice” was served to Charles I in the 17th century.

America’s first ice-cream was recorded in 1744 in a letter written by Maryland governor, William Bladen, while accounts show George Washington spent a whopping $200 on ice-cream during the steamy summer of 1790, strawberry-infused ice-cream was served in The White House in 1813, and the first commercial ice-creams hit America’s streets in the mid-1800s.

Australian ice cream has its own claim to fame, once boasting the world’s biggest ice cream factory. It belonged to Peters Ice Cream, founded in Sydney by American migrant Fred Peters. 

After several unsuccessful business ventures in Australia, he began to manufacture ice cream in his backyard. His first Peters Ice Cream family bricks, made to his mother’s recipe, were sold  from a horse and cart in Manly. In 1911, he opened his first major factory at Redfern. At that time, it was the world’s largest ice cream factory.