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Recently we stopped in the little burg of Dundee nestled in the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine National Forest. Most folks never heard of the small Fond du Lac County community until Ty Pennington and his “Extreme Home Makeover” crew descended there in the fall of 2006 to renovate the Koepke family home.

Those traveling to watch the filming discovered the Hamburger Haus, a small roadside burger stand with a few picnic tables and a long line of hungry customers snaking out to Highway 67.

While the burgers are a huge draw, the ice cream is an experience itself. During my first visit, I ordered a waffle cone with two scoops of Cedar Crest strawberry ice cream. The young girl at the window asked, “Are you sure you want two scoops?” Well, of course, I did. When she passed my cone through the window, I suddenly realized what a generous portion was, both to my delight and dismay!

Each time that I return, we sit near the window so we can watch the expressions on the faces of customers – especially kids – as the enormous cone is placed in their hands. Almost everyone asks for a spoon (and lots of napkins) to help dive into the mountain of ice cream.

With National Ice Cream day falling on Sunday, July 19, why not head out to the nearest drive-in, ice cream shop or passing ice cream truck for a cone or sundae to celebrate?

While you’re working on that cone or dish of ice cream, take a moment to ponder the origin of that cold treat. According to PBS, there are several myths as to who invented ice cream harking back to the Persian Empire and the Tang Dynasty. Many point to Naples, Italy as the birthplace of the first ice cream.

No matter who concocted the cold delicacy, there's no disputing that the versatile dessert is a favorite among many. Many early presidents had a hankering for ice cream. According to historical archives, in the summer of 1790, George Washington spent around $200 for ice cream – a hefty sum for that time which would equate to about $5,000 today! Thomas Jefferson is also credited for writing down the first ice cream recipe in the 1780s which today is housed in the Library of Congress. Some historians dispute this claim, pointing to the Quakers who were making ice cream in their new homeland long before the third president.

Abe Lincoln liked ice cream so much that he served the cold treat to some 4,000 guests attending his second inaugural ball. And thanks to our 40th president, Ronald Reagan officially established July as National Ice Cream month.

Fun Ice Cream facts

  • Philadelphian, Nancy Johnson, received the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer in 1843.
  • The ice cream soda was invented in 1874.
  • Ice cream cones were invented at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri by concessions vendors as a way for people to eat ice cream easily while they enjoyed the fair.
  • Harry Burt, creator of the Good Humor brand, puts the first ice cream trucks on the streets in 1920.
  • Mister Softee was founded in Philadelphia in 1956 by two brothers who created a soft serve ice cream machine built specifically for a truck.
  • Vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream.
  • California produces the most ice cream in the United States.
  • New Zealand consumes more ice cream per capita than any other country, with an average of 7.5 gallons per person per year.
  • Ben & Jerry’s employees get to take 3 pints of ice cream home with them every day. 
  • The world record for the largest ice cream cone ever made was achieved in 2015 in Norway with a cone over 10 feet high!
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