National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of July (this year its July 16th), and the whole month of July is National Ice Cream Month. They were created originally by an act of Congress in 1984, and signed into law that year. In a proclamation by then President Ronald Reagan, he explained the reasoning behind the wildly popular bill:
“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.”
Today, ice cream is still one of the most popular snacks and desserts in America. It’s also a booming $39 billion industry, providing 188,000 jobs and producing about 1.54 billion gallons of ice cream last year. It is a strong sector of the economy, and according to a survey by the IDFA (International Dairy Foods Association) Ice Cream Company survey in 2012, most American ice cream businesses are family-owned and have been running continuously for over 50 years.
While the original National Ice Cream day was created to satisfy the congressional sweet tooth, it has been remembered and celebrated fondly every year since by ice cream producers, shops, and consumers who continue to choose ice cream for their favorite refreshment. Re-declared as an unofficial holiday on the third Sunday of every July, the IDFA has made great use of National Ice Cream Day to improve their publicity and marketing, encouraging ice cream producers and shops to celebrate it with gusto. Efforts to team up with other, unaffiliated groups have been running for decades, including Ben & Jerry’s cooperation with NFL teams, Nascar drivers and even the Girl Scouts to popularize the day. Among others, Dairy Queen, Häagen-Dazs, and Ben & Jerry’s will be handing out free cones on this year’s National Ice Cream Day.