So Why, Exactly, Is July 'National Ice Cream Month'?

It's July! Which means, it is National Ice Cream Month in the good ol' U.S of A.

Before you ask — no, National Ice Cream Month wasn't an arbitrary holiday July was designated National Ice Cream Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. 

In fact, here is the text from Reagan's official proclamation: 

"Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food. Over eight hundred and eighty-seven million gallons of ice cream were consumed in the United States in 1983.

The ice cream industry generates approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. Indeed, nearly ten percent of all the milk produced by the United States dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, thereby contributing substantially to the economic well-being of the Nation's dairy industry.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 298, has designated July 1984 as "National Ice Cream Month," and July 15, 1984, as "National Ice Cream Day," and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of these events.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 1984 as National Ice Cream Month and July 15, 1984, as National Ice Cream Day, and I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eightyfour, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth."

 
RONALD REAGAN


Lyons Maid ice-cream van, Cambridge 1960's.


But... why the heck was this holiday instituted? 

Ronald Reagan did not just arbitrarily create this holiday. In fact, it wasn't even his idea. 

The proclamation above (as well as any Presidential proclamation in the US) is put forward by Congress. If it passes all the phases of approval, then it is presented to the President for his (or, maybe someday, her) approval. In the case of National Ice Cream Month, it was the US Senate that kicked things off. They proposed National Ice Cream Day.

Originally, the Proclamation was just to celebrate National Ice Cream Day that year, 1984, but American corporations loved it so much, they kept it going. 


Okay, but who was the person behind the idea? 

His name was Walter Dee Huddleston, a senator from Kentucky. It turns out that 1984 wasn't even the first time that this Proclamation had been proposed by Mr. Huddleston. He had proposed it one year earlier, in 1983, but it had been rejected. 

But Walter wasn't having it. He re-proposed it, and this time it went through. 

There are a few existing theories as to why Walter was so adamant about his beloved Ice Cream celebrations. 

Theory 1: He straight up just loves ice cream

According to his interview with Ice Cream Geek, he laughed and said, "Because I love ice cream!"


Theory 2: It was all a marketing scheme

According to other sources, Walter was working in conjunction with the American Dairy Association. This wouldn't be the only dairy-based campaign put forth by the American Dairy Association in an attempt to boost the country's love of dairy products. 

Do you remember the 1990s milk campaign, "Milk: It Does a Body Good"? Tyra Banks and Marc Anthony were the faces of the campaign that pushed milk as a way to strengthen bones. In actuality, there is no conclusive research on whether or not milk strengthens bones. In fact, a recent study has suggested that men that drank more milk in their teen years were more likely to get a hip fracture than those who didn't. 

Milk marketers also had a campaign that advertised milk as a diet and weight loss food, until the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection told them to pull the ad until further research provides stronger, more conclusive evidence of an association between dairy consumption and weight loss.

And I'm sure you remember the celebrity "got milk?" moustaches of yore. 

The dairy industry has a history of promoting themselves through near-genius advertising campaigns, so it would be no surprise if they had thought, "Hey! Let's just make a holiday surrounding our product." 

Though it's not confirmed, that would be pretty smooth. Smooth, in fact, as some soft serve. 

Enjoy your National Ice Cream Month, America!


Proclamation Citation: Ronald Reagan: "Proclamation 5219—National Ice Cream Month and National Ice Cream Day, 1984," July 9, 1984. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=40141.

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