History's Just Desserts

Exploring American History through Desserts and Their Makers

It’s National Ice Cream Day! Be Careful!

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Be careful with ice cream?  You’re thinking, she’s going to lecture us not to overdo it, that killjoy.  No, no, the peril I have in mind is not the quantity of ice cream.  It’s the coldness.  In the 1790s, some New York humanitarians worried that eating ice cream on hot days could prove fatal.  “Let . . . ice Creams, be completely dissolved in the mouth before it be swallowed. . .”  the Humane Society of the State of New York counseled in hopes that people would therefore not drop dead from their icy treat.  This Humane Society had nothing to do with animals.  Founded in 1794 based on models of similar charities in Europe and the United States, the New York Humane Society sought to prevent death from various causes including drowning, suffocation, poisonous fumes, lightning strikes, and the consumption of cold beverages and the like on hot days.  Americans had seen too many cases, Humane Society leaders in the United States explained, where people had drunk cold water after working in the heat and then died suddenly.  This idea isn’t as crazy as it may sound.  Drinking too much water when your sodium levels are unusually low after, say, running a marathon can indeed be hazardous.  Perhaps the people who perished after drinking water on hot days had hyponatremia.  A bowlful of the cold creamy treat we celebrate today, however, was presumably nothing to worry about.  Happy National Ice Cream Day!

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One thought on “It’s National Ice Cream Day! Be Careful!

  1. Pingback: The Lifesaving Nature of Buttermilk | History's Just Desserts

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