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Facts about Italian ices

Although Italian ices are a uniquely light blend of ice and flavor, ice cream in general is a staple of society.
Although Italian ices are a uniquely light blend of ice and flavor, ice cream in general is a staple of society.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Audi

Ice cream is an essential part of life for many people all across the globe. There are thousands of ice cream manufacturers and flavors and most people cannot imagine living without ice cream. Although ice cream sales are most popular during hot summer months, it is a treat that can be enjoyed even in the freeze of winter (although adding a little hot chocolate certainly helps in those circumstances).

Ice cream is a staple of society.
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Although there are many kinds of ice cream, one of the most popular is “Italian Ices.” These ice creams are a mix between ice and ice cream and they are well regarded for having extremely cooling effects. Italy actually has a long and important history when it comes to the formation of modern-day ice cream. A common belief is that Marco Polo brought ice cream back to Italy after returning home from China. Although this story has never been proven (and there are numerous questions about its probability) it is generally accepted that the Chinese were the first people to develop ice-cream making practices.

Italian ices are very much like the early Chinese ice creams, which were far more like sorbet than actual “ice cream” because there was no milk or cream in these treats. Roman Emperors were known to have enjoyed these desserts—during a time period centuries before Marco Polo lived. Hence, some historians believe that the Arabs might have initially introduced the Ancient Romans to ice cream via their travels to Southern Italy (the Arabs also brought sugarcane to Italy). The Arabs were known to use mountain snow and fruit juices to make “sherbet” and the familiar ingredients, combined with the word that sounds a lot like “sorbetto” or “sherbert,” certainly make this version of events more likely. Whatever the case, once the Ancient Romans discovered sorbet they developed it tremendously. The Emperor Nero of Rome was allegedly addicted to eating sorbet and he is actually credited with creating a popular early flavor that included snow, nectar, fruit pulp and honey.

Today, Italian ices are sold all over the world. The rapid influx of Italian immigrants to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries made the treat more popular than ever on American shores. Today, it is estimated that Americans consume about 24 quarts of Italian ice (or other frozen dairy products) every year. Currently, “LUIGI’S Real Italian Ice” is the most popular brand of ices, they produce about 85 million cups of ices every year, and their most popular flavor is lemon.

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