Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Le Mars, Iowa, Home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream!"

Here in Tucson, my favorite ice cream is Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Perhaps I'm special to this brand partly because of my family roots to this small town in Northwest Iowa.

While doing genealogy work their this week, I visited the Blue Bunny visitor's center in Le Mars and took a number of photos which are shown in this blog. I've also provided a brief thumbnail sketch of the origins of ice cream which I found interesting. Seems that Marco Polo discovered much on this trips to the Orient!

Americans’ love affair with ice cream is centuries-old. The origins of the frosty treat reach back to the first centuries B.C., when, as the story goes, ancient Persians and Chinese stored ice to serve it with honey, rosewater or nuts. Furthermore, during Roman times, emperors sent their runners for mountain snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices and enjoyed.

Legends about ice cream’s history abound: In the 13th century, Marco Polo brought the first ice cream recipe to Europe after his trip to the Far East, and the Italian royalties fell in love with the dessert. Italian Princess Catherine de Medici brought the treat to France when she married King Henry II. In England, Charles I paid his cook a handsome sum to keep the recipe a state secret.

Most of these tales cannot be supported. Yet, it is true that over time the ice cream recipe evolved and spread throughout the continent. In the 17th century, the dessert became publicly available in Europe, and it is believed that in the 18th century the recipe crossed the Atlantic with European settlers.

Official records in the New World indicate that presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson developed a sweet tooth for ice cream. By 1813, ice cream became a state dish and was served at the second inaugural ball for President James Madison. As restaurants became more popular in the 19th century, ice cream became a favorite indulgence. Ice cream parlors and soda fountains spread as well.

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