One century on and millions of ice cream tubs later the US 'food police' are out in force calling on ice cream retailers to tell the full story about saturated fat and calorific content.
The call comes from consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) who, following an analysis of a dozen ice cream items, have reportedly sent letters to six major ice cream retail chains - including Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings and Haagen-Dazs Shoppes - requesting in-store labelling.
"It's as if these ice cream shops were competing with each other to see who could inflict the greatest toll on our arteries and waistlines," said CSPI senior nutritionist Jayne Hurley.
According to the group, even a single scoop of premium ice cream provides 250 to 350 calories and a half a day's worth of saturated fat. Going further, the CSPI highlighted the fact that one large Baskin-Robbins vanilla milkshake has 1,070 calories and 32 grammes of saturated fat, 'the equivalent to drinking three McDonald's Quarter Pounders', said the group.
So how did the industry react, currently amidst celebrations for the US National Ice cream month? By all accounts with reserve. In a statement last week the International Ice Cream Association said : "We have more nutrition information about the foods we eat than ever before. We can readily find this information on food packages, on the Internet and in the media. The fact is, people love ice cream and we eat it as a special treat in our lives."
The statistics would appear to support the association's words. According to the latest US government data, Americans eat about the same amount of ice cream and frozen desserts today as they did in 1960 - about 22 quarter litres per head. Ice cream and frozen desserts are consumed by more than 90 per cent of US households with regular ice cream making up 80 per cent and low-fat accounting for 11 per cent of sales.