Since 1984, July has been National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month – today! – has been National Ice Cream Day.
Did you know that nearly 10 percent of all milk produced in the U.S. becomes ice cream? And 63 percent of that is consumed in Milwaukee? OK, I made that last stat up, but we sure do love our frozen dairy.
While Americans eat an average of 23.2 quarts of ice cream and other frozen dairy desserts, those of us here in the Upper Midwest consume an average of 41.7 quarts of the good stuff.
While I personally find it hard to believe that vanilla is twice as popular as chocolate a market research group assures us that vanilla (27.8 percent) is America's favorite flavor, with chocolate a distant second at 14.3 percent. Jump down again to find strawberry and chocolate chip tied for third (3.3 percent) and butter pecan at 2.8 percent.
Although Italo Marchiony was the first to create an ice cream cone in 1896, frozen desserts have been beloved since the second century B.C. and the first accounts of ice cream in America date to 1700, in a letter writen by Maryland Gov. William Bladen.
Unfortunately for Bladen he, presumably, never got to taste real Milwaukee custard.
In honor of National Ice Cream Day I offer this list of my favorite frozen Milwaukee dairy treats, in no particular order:
- The Miller Park malt cup. You can't find it everywhere, but there are stands on club level and at sections 115 and 215. They'll offer you a plastic spoon, but real malt cup lovers will go for the wooden paddle each and every time.
- Yo Mama! Frozen Yogurt, 1349 Wauwatosa Ave., is new to the scene, having opened last month, but it's already a massive hit. There are five stations with two flavors each (you can also swirl a combo of the two flavors), plus sauces, candies and other toppings. Then, you pay by weight (of the cup, not your own weight, luckily) and, amazingly, it always ends up being less expensive than I expect. And you can't tell the creamy, tasty goodness isn't soft serve ice cream.
- Gelato at Golosi, 162 E. Wisconsin Ave., in Oconomowoc, and Cold Spoons, 5924 W. Vliet St. Both serve up a wide range of sumptuous Italian "ice cream," in flavors, like hazelnut and caramel sea salt, that you rarely find in ice cream shops.
- C'mon, you didn't think I'd forget about the slammin' custard you can get at Kopp's, Gilles or Leon's, did you?!
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.