Do We Still Love Our Ice Cream?

pralines ice cream cone

It’s summer (July to be exact) and that means we are in the prime of ice cream season. Ice cream goes down great any time of the year, but summer is the time when people make a point to grab a frosty treat.

Why do you think Ronald Reagan chose July as the month to designate “National Ice Cream Month”? Say what you will, the nation’s 40th president had impeccable timing. July is a perfect month to celebrate ice cream…with ice cream. A double scoop of Beez Neez should be as much a summer tradition as fireworks and cookouts on the Fourth of July.

But are we eating less ice cream?

I know what you are thinking: “That sounds like crazy talk.” According to a recent report, people in the U.S. spent $13.7 billion on ice cream last year and figure doesn’t include restaurant sales.
pralines beez neez

However, the same article points to a downward trend in the ice cream world. Reportedly, the average American eats ice cream about 28.5 times this year. That’s down 45% from 25 years ago. In 1989, the average American devoured ice cream 41.3 times.

There are reasons given for this drop-off. Healthier eating, healthier lifestyles and a great abundance of things like frozen yogurt. People want less fat and less sugar. Yet, frozen yogurt sales have flattened over the last several years as well.

We all know that ice cream is a dessert best enjoyed in moderation. And there are more consumer choices for people nowadays. That’s a good thing. Plus, we recognize ice cream for the special treat that it is. And those times enjoying ice cream are more likely to help us create new memories and remember times past of warm summer nights and cold, delicious ice cream. Ice cream is here to stay and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Those National Ice Cream Day Deals

pralines beez neez
This past Sunday was National Ice Cream Day. What’s that, you say? You are not familiar with National Ice Cream Day? That’s too bad because you missed out on some sweet deals.

First, let’s refresh the history of National Ice Cream Day. President Ronald Reagan did more than fire air traffic controllers and inspire the term “Reaganomics”. The man also clearly loved his ice cream. Back in 1984, President Reagan declared the third Sunday of every July to be designated National Ice Cream Day. The president also took it one step further. He names the entire month of July national ice cream month.

So, did you catch any great ice cream deals on July 20th? If not here’s some of what you missed:

• Carvel celebrated National Ice Cream Day with 80-cent soft serve cups and cones.
• Ben & Jerry’s sent an ice cream truck around the country, looking for ice cream enthusiasts. On National Ice Cream Day, that truck was delivering free scoops of ice cream.
• Some grocery store chains figured National Ice Cream Day was the perfect day to serve up free samples of new flavors.
• Dairy Queen ran a two-for-the-price of one special for Blizzard ice cream treats.
• Folks who joined Sonic’s Ice Cream Social club were set to receive free ice cream.

If you missed one of these ice cream specials, fear not. Remember, this is also National Ice Cream Month. There are still great deals to be had and sweet ways to celebrate.

Here’s a reminder: Scooper Sunday will be taking place this Sunday on July 27th, before the New Britain Rock Cats baseball game in New Britain. Praline’s will be among the ice cream makers participating in an all you can eat ice cream taste testing. Praline’s will once again be featuring its signature flavor, Beez Neez, winner of the taste-testing contest two years aware.

Scooper Sunday

scooper sunday
Summer means a lot of things to a lot of people but it’s hard to find many people who disagree with the idea that baseball and ice cream are summer staples.

That’s just one reason Praline’s is proud to be a part of Scooper Sunday at the New Britain Rock Cats minor league baseball game Sunday July 27th. Praline’s is one of several local ice cream makers to take part in the tasting event. And make no mistake, ice cream tasting is the name of this game. Scooper Sunday allows people to pay a fixed prices and sample of the different ice creams on hand. Ice cream tasters are asked to vote for their favorite flavor.

When it comes to this ice cream taste testing contest, Praline’s is looking for a third-straight win. For the past two years, Praline’s Beez Neez has finished tops in the test-testing. And tasters can taste all they want. This is an “all you can eat” event, or until the ice cream runs out. All it will cost you is 10$ for a ticket to Scooper Sunday and a general admission seat top to Rock Cats game that Sunday afternoon. Reserved seat tickets will cost $15.

Scooper Sunday is more than just a great day of ice cream and baseball. It’s a way to give back to a good cause. The event benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It’s a great chance to try incredible ice cream with true local flavors, then enjoy baseball and (if you somehow have room) a hot dog as the Rock Cats take on the Portland Sea Dogs, the double-A affiliate of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Come for the ice cream, stay for the ballgame. Don’t wait. Tickets to this event are going fast. And don’t forget to try the Beez Neez.

National Ice Cream Month

national ice cream month

If you love ice cream (and we all love ice cream), then you are really going to love July.

You see, July is National Ice Cream Month. And this year is the 30th anniversary of July being National Ice Cream Month.

You might remember Ronald Reagan as a man who talked tough to the Soviets and enjoyed a good jellybean. But our nation’s 40th president also had a patriotic appreciation of ice cream. That’s why, in 1984, President Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month. The President recognized ice cream as a favorite American treat and called it a fun and nutritious food that was enjoyed by about 90 percent of the nation’s population.
ronald reagon ice cream
It doesn’t stop with National Ice Cream Month. The third Sunday of the month is designated as National Ice Cream Day. This gives you a few weeks’ notice to plan and celebrate a day to enjoy ice cream. You can head down to Praline’s and try delicious flavors like Peanut Butter Chip Swirl. That’s vanilla ice cream with chocolate chunks and a peanut butter ripple. Or Praline’s famous Beez Neez ice cream. For those unaware, this is true ice cream deliciousness. It’s graham-flavored ice cream with a graham cracker ripple and chocolate-covered honeycomb candy. pralines beez neez

It’s all part of ice cream tradition. Part of President Reagan’s proclamation of National Ice Cream Month and National Ice Cream Day was that people across America would enjoy ice cream and would enjoy these events with “appropriate ceremonies and activities”.

This year, National Ice Day will be Sunday, July 20th. There are plenty of delicious ways to celebrate. Break out the ice cream machine and try a new homemade recipe. Or head down to Praline’s for a few scoops of Connecticut’s favorite homemade ice cream. We’ll handle the cleanup. President Reagan would be proud.

The History of Caramel

caramel ice cream
If you haven’t been to Praline’s yet this summer, you’ve denied yourself the chance to try Praline’s delicious salty caramel ice cream. This flavor combination is a summertime “cannonball into the pool” burst of flavor. There’s sweetness, then saltiness, then sweetness, then more saltiness.
pralines salty caramel
We love it so much.

But what are its origins? And how did it end up in our ice cream (among other places)?

Like many of our past excursions into sweet treat history, this one has some mystery. Caramel and caramel candies have been with us for centuries, but their exact origins are a bit murky.

Some say the Arabs first discovered caramel around 1000 A.D. This was a crunchy type of caramel, created by crystallizing sugar in boiling water. So when did caramel arrive in our fair land? It’s believed that American settlers were making hard candies in kettles. This was around 1650.
So how did it become soft? There is a working theory that milk and fat was added to the recipe at some point, resulting in a chewy treat. It’s also believed that sugar beet juice may have been used to produce caramel, as regular sugar was considered an expensive luxury back in the day.

Today, caramels can have different textures. “Short” caramels tend to have a softer texture. “Long” caramels are chewier. It’s our opinion that both textures are delicious.

Caramel becomes caramel when milk solids are heated with sugar ingredients. Sugar syrups are then added to the milk and the fat and allowed to caramelize. Most mass-produced caramels are flavored with vanilla as well.

Caramel sauce has long been a favorite topping for ice cream sundaes, right up there with hot fudge and strawberry.

Is it any wonder caramel has been so popular and remains a favorite sweet treat? It’s all about simple ingredients combined in just the right way. The results are delicious.

A Sprinkles Emergency

pralines sprinkles
When it comes to ice cream, we all have our favorite flavors and toppings. Some of us are down with the hot fudge. Others enjoy a fruitier topping, like strawberries and pineapple.

When it comes to dry toppings, the passion remains. The debate over nuts or no nuts will likely continue until the end of time.

And what about sprinkles? Is the alleged mismanagement of sprinkles on ice cream enough to get the police involved?

One British woman apparently thought so. This thought process got her into a wee bit of trouble with police, who apparently didn’t appreciate the woman contacting them on an emergency line to complain about an incorrect dessert order. Police say the woman called them because the woman was upset about how sprinkles were put on her ice cream. There would be more humor to this (though not Good Humor) if not for the fact that this could have been dangerous.

Police say the woman dialed 999 (the British version of 911) to complain that the server at the ice cream shop had only put sprinkles on one side of her ice cream, leaving the other side bare. The woman claims she wanted her money back and told the server he could keep the ice cream.

Police say the woman was quickly educated about the fact that such disputes over food service do not qualify as actual police emergencies. The dispatcher then gave the woman suggestions on other agencies that might be able to help her.

The police wanted to remind her and others that every non-emergency call can take time away from responding to an actual emergency.

There should never be a police emergency over ice cream toppings. At Praline’s, it’s understood that the perfect topping can make the best ice cream even better. We promise we’ll cover both sides.

Neapolitan Ice Cream’s Rich History

neapolitan ice cream

Have you ever had your heart set on ice cream but just can’t decide on a flavor? We’ve all been there. This is certainly a first-world problem but there is still a decision to be made.

This is why Neapolitan ice cream can be such a delicious decision maker. It’s got three of the all-time favorite flavors all living together under one container. You’ve got your vanilla, chocolate and strawberry all right there for the eating.

Some people like one flavor a little more than others. We’ve all opened a carton of this tri-colored treat to find one of the flavors carved out, while the other two flavors remain virtually untouched. Who knows, perhaps we’ve also been guilty of this culinary crime in the past. This does not make us bad people. It just makes quirky ice cream lovers. We are not alone.

We love to explore the history of ice cream, and the Neapolitan chapter is rich and inviting.

History gives Italy credit for this staple of the American ice cream diet. So some ice cream makers in Italy decided to take three of the staple flavors and combine them into one block. The block is then separated by those three flavors. This all dates back to the 1800’s. Recipes for the tri-colored treat began to be more common in the 19th century.

According to the fine folks at the Food Timeline, the name “Neapolitan” traces back to the people of Napoli. The pressed blocks of ice cream were becoming popular in the area. It also appears there was no rule that Neapolitan ice cream’s three flavors could only be chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

Certainly our American-ized version remains popular today. It’s no wonder. We like variety.

Even if Neapolitan is not your thing, you are never too far away from terrific ice cream made with the finest ingredients. Just head down to Praline’s and concoct your own delicious creation. sprinkles ice cream

Ice Cream Under the Microscope

ice cream science
Nothing says summer like ice cream. Let’s rephrase that. Nothing tastes more like summer than ice cream.

Science is not usually the first thing that pops into our minds when we are enjoying an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Yet science may soon be playing a bigger role in how we look at and enjoy ice cream.

The folks at Nestle have been known to make some ice cream. Now Nestle is working with the people at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Switzerland. They are using an x-ray machine that is usually used to study the way avalanches form. They do this by looking at ice crystal formations. The x-ray machine takes images of very small structures at sub-zero temperatures. This gives the Nestle crew a view of their ice cream they’ve never seen before.

Looking at ice cream as it forms on a molecular level gives Nestle researchers hope that they can create an ice cream that can withstand temperature changes better than the current ice cream. One of the Swiss researchers refers to ice cream as an “unstable substance”. He goes on to say that, as part of ice cream’s natural aging process, ice will separate from other ingredients such as cream and sugar. This explains why we see an ice buildup on ice cream that’s been in the freezer for a long time.

The x-ray machine at the institute in Switzerland allows Nestle to look at and record the size and shape of ice crystals and air bubbles in ice cream under home freezer conditions.

Nestle knows appearance and texture are important in ice cream. The temperature fluctuation found in most home freezers is not kind to either.

So will we soon see ice cream that is freezer burn-proof? Only time will tell. Yet, it’s nice to say people in the ice cream industry taking a look under the microscope in hopes of creating a better ice cream.

What is a Praline?

pralines cup

Praline’s takes its ice cream pretty seriously. Praline’s delights in making customers happy by serving up the best-tasting ice cream made with the best ingredients.

Some of you might be wondering: What is a praline and where did it come from?

We have the answers to these questions. It’s time to take a closer look at one of our favorite sweet treats.

A praline is basically a sugar candy. It’s made from nuts and sugar syrup. There are all sorts of variation on Praline’s. We’ll identify a few.

Pralines are a big deal in the southern U.S. Go online and you’ll find lots of recipes for southern pralines. Almost all of them include caramel and pecans. You’ll find recipes that call for brown sugar and some that make no mention of brown sugar. There are recipes that include things like baking soda, evaporated milk, buttermilk, and other ingredients.

Original pralines didn’t start out in the south. Original pralines were made with almonds. That’s because almonds were the preferred nut of the French and pralines in America came out of the Creole regions of Louisiana. That’s because French settlers brought pralines to Louisiana. Creole recipes eventually swapped out the almonds for the cheaper (and oftentimes more plentiful) pecan. They also used more sugar (since sugar cane was also more plentiful).

The praline found in parts of Europe remains a different concoction from the praline we enjoy here in the U.S. Pralines in Belgium and France are a smooth paste of cocoa blended with finely ground nuts. They are used to fill chocolate nuts.

Pralines are not the easiest things to make. They require lots of attention and plenty of patience. Also stirring. Stirring helps.

Pralines and cream has been a popular ice cream flavor for decades. Praline’s features a Pralines n’ Cream ice cream made with brown sugar and butter ice cream. It has pecan nuts covered in butter and brown sugar. We’re sure folks from the south would be proud.pralines ice cream cone

Ice Cream from a Factory

ice cream factory

Ice cream is delicious. We can all agree on that statement.

There are many ice cream recipes, far too many for us to list here. We all love the taste of homemade ice cream and ice cream made with the best, all-natural ingredients. It’s also hard to argue that point.

Yet we also know that for everyone to be able to enjoy the sweet treat that is ice cream, some ice cream (okay, a lot of ice cream), needs to be mass-produced. This means ice cream that is made in (gasp) a factory.

All is not lost. Much of the ice cream we enjoy comes from the grocery store freezer section. This means ice cream that has been mass-produced. It’s ice cream on a truck that’s come from miles away. Yet, despite this travel time, the ice cream usually remains delicious.
ice cream factory truck

Mass production of ice cream used to be impossible. Back in the day, before refrigeration, ice cream was mainly a treat for the wealthy, especially those in cooler climates. The development of ice harvesting and the invention on insulated ice houses in the 19th century helped bring ice cream to the masses. A hand-cranked ice freezer was later developed and also helped with production.

So what happens in an ice cream factory? What goes into the mass production of America’s favorite frosty dessert?

To start, the ingredients of the ice cream are weighed out and measured. Ingredients are then mixed. After that, it’s time for the mixture to be pasteurized. Pasteurization helps kill off any harmful bacteria.

The mixture is also homogenized. This breaks down fat globules in milk and cream to make them smaller. This will make the ice cream smoother and allow for easier whipping. This also keeps the ice cream from melting too fast.

The mix is then left alone for several hours to let the fat cool and form into crystals.

Flavors and colors are then added and the whole mix is pumped through a special barrel freezer which freezes some of the water in the ice cream and whips air into it at the same time.

The ice cream is then packaged. From there, before it leaves the factory, it goes into a blast freezer. This is where more of the water in the ice cream is frozen, making the ice cream harder.