Here’s the scoop:
“Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over 90 percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food.”
So said President Ronald Reagan on July 9, 1984, as he designated July to be National Ice Cream Month and named the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.
The Gipper was onto something.
The U.S. dairy industry generates $620 billion in annual economic impact. It supports more than 3 million jobs and $159 billion in wages.
It has a $3.9 billion total economic impact on Idaho’s first congressional district alone. This generates $920.8 million in wages for Idaho residents, according to the International Dairy Food Association.
The ice cream industry generates $1.6 billion in wages for the nation and $13 million for wages in Idaho with an economic impact of $20 million.
June and July are the two busiest months for ice cream production, according to the International Dairy Food Association.
A Coeur d’Alene shop has licked up some national recognition. Abi’s Ice Cream, located at 112 N. Fourth St. in downtown Coeur d’Alene, was just named by carrentals.com as one of the 12 best ice cream shops along the West Coast. Abi’s serves hand-crafted, organic ice cream and sweet treats. Owner Maren Scoggins named the shop after her daughter, Abigail. Abi has tree-nut and peanut allergies, so making the shop safe for her and others was important to Maren.
“When you get a kid or adult who has never had ice cream before, they cry and they are so happy,” Maren said. “It is very gratifying.”
To ensure everyone can partake, the store typically has two or three non-dairy and vegan options available each day.
Ice cream sales tend to rise about 15 percent in July, Maren said, and given the increased traffic in the summer, Abi’s makes fresh ice cream every day. In the winter, Maren scales back the size of the batches, which she produces every other day.
Abi’s uses local supplies that lead to a great product, Maren said.
“We provide a really high-quality product. The people who work there are very friendly and provide excellent customer service. It has to be the whole package,” Maren said.
The average American consumes 23 pounds of ice cream per year. An average pint of ice cream weighs about a pound, which means most Americans plow through a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia or Haagen Dazs Stout Chocolate Pretzel Crunch nearly every other week.
The most popular ice cream flavor in the United States is vanilla. At Abi’s, the top variety is malted vanilla toffee chocolate chip. Abi herself goes for chocolate.
Certainly consumers can choose from scores of more esoteric and exotic flavors. Among the more creative: French Toast Bacon and something called “Ninja Kick,” which is a union of chocolate ice cream with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, chili powder and Oreos. Voters chose these unusual varieties as some of the “most daring,” according to an industry group survey. That trend is alive and well here at home: Abi’s offers salt-and-pepper ice cream as well as orange cardamom.
Maren said she enjoys being able to provide customers with something that can give them a smile.
“I like being able to produce something with my hands that is so flavorful. And it makes people happy — they love it and I like spreading a little joy,” she said.