It seems like summer came early this year, especially here in Singapore. And when the heat gets too unbearable, who can resist the cold treat of popsicles, soft-serves and scoops of smooth chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream? I’d say no one. We have put together 11 little-known and interesting facts about ice cream that just may surprise you – and might well inspire your next ice cream rush!

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• Ice cream’s history begins way back in ancient China. Chinese rulers created huge ice storage pits and it is believed they were particularly partial to flavoured ices. Meanwhile in Europe, the Roman Emperors had fast runners to bring them snow and ice from the Apennine Mountains. They enjoyed their icy treats mixed with fruit, honey or rose water. Not that much difference from today, really.

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• The first popsicle was patented in the USA in 1923. It was invented by lemonade manufacturer Frank Epperson, who claimed to have stumbled upon the idea completely by accident in 1905. Having left out a glass of lemonade with a spoon in it, it froze overnight to create the first lemonade ice pop. On 9th October 1923, Epperson’s fellow countryman Harry Bust registered a patent for vanilla ice cream on a stick with a chocolate coating.

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• Soft serve ice cream became very popular in the 1970s and 80s. This type of ice cream initially posed a hygienic risk: many people became ill after eating it as it was made using raw eggs. Today, soft serve ice cream no longer contains raw eggs. Professional soft ice cream machines use a pasteurised substitute instead.

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• In the 19th century, many Italian immigrants sold ice creams from a van or from the window of their homes. Piles of floorboards were often placed in front of these so that customers could reach the window more easily, and the first ice cream parlours were born.

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• Ice cream is among the top three items most missed by astronauts on space missions according to NASA. The others are pizza and fizzy drinks.

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• In the USA, vanilla ice cream is commemorated annually with its own special day – the 23rd July is ‘National Vanilla Ice Day’.

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• Nancy Johnson invented the ice cream making machine in 1843. It was operated with a hand crank and revolutionised ice cream production.

• Dairyman Jacob Fussell from Baltimore established the first factory for industrially produced ice cream on 15 June 1851 in Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania.

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• The origin of the first ice cream cone is unknown. The New York Museum of Modern Art houses in its collection ice cream cones from Italo Marchioni that date from 1896. In Manchester, Antonio Valvona received the first known patent for a device that could mechanically produce biscuit cups for ice cream in 1902.

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• While claims that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did invent soft serve may be bending truth just a little bit, she did work for a company at the forefront of popularizing the treat in the UK, between 1949-1951. She may have been working on making the UK variant more compatible with the US machines the company had brought in.

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• Having a sore throat? Health experts suggests to eat a dish of cold ice cream to help soothe your burning throat. Eating something cold may help reduce the swelling and irritation in the back of your throat – which may temporarily soothe your throat. You probably should opt for vanilla ice cream and reserve the toppings, chocolate chips or nuts for when you’ve recovered from the sore throat.

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