The third Sunday of July is coming. And thanks to former President Ronald Reagan, it’ll be a day to celebrate one of the world’s finest desserts. On the third Sunday of July, it was made official that day be recognized as National Ice Cream Day.
Cream ice, as it was called then, is believed to have been invented by the Chinese in the second century BC, according to multiple websites. Lots of different recollections tell different versions of the invention of ice cream. Whether it was the ruthless Roman emperor Nero Claudius Caesar scurrying to the mountains to gather up fruit-flavored snow or Marco Polo venturing back to Italy with a new sherbet-like recipe, people’s yearn for ice cream has not changed for thousands of years.
But within that thousand-year course, the quality of ice cream has changed. Artificial and processed ingredients are in virtually every type of ice cream at your local market. According to British chef Jamie Oliver, castoreum, a beaver anal gland-based chemical, is a common ingredient in ice cream. Other ingredients include shellac (or as referred to on an ingredients label, confectioners glaze or resinous glaze) for a shiny texture, air (the cheapest ingredient, which increases quantity from one scoop to three) and L cysteine (an extract from poultry feathers and human hairs).
Not all ice cream is like this. National Ice Cream Day is a day to celebrate what ice cream should be, has been and what could be. Luckily for National City and San Diego County, Niederfrank’s Ice Cream is just around the corner.
Since 1948 Niederfrank’s has been dedicated to making ice cream with nothing but natural, hand cut, handmade ingredients. No exceptions.
“We don’t just make ice cream. We cook every chocolate and fudge,” said Patti Finnegan, co-owner of Niederfrank’s and ice cream enthusiast. “We make our own brownies. We make our own coffee. Everything is cooked and cut and made from scratch right there in our own kitchen.”
To keep her busy, Finnegan offers 48 totally natural flavors to her customers including rum raisin, with raisins soaked in a pool of rum to provide the rich rum flavor, chocolate flavored ice cream with double Dutch chocolate, which is cooked from scratch. Avocado flavored ice cream with hand sliced avocados that go well with tacos, depending on your preference. And yes, vanilla flavored ice cream that’s made with stone smoked porter. Ironically, of the 48 flavors, the French vanilla is the most requested flavor in the past few months.
Finnegan says it only takes a taste to notice the difference in quality.
“All you have to do is take a bite, feel it in your mouth and you will know that you have handmade, all natural ice cream,” she said. “Others are making ice cream, they’re just not cooking the flavor.”
Nirderfrank’s turned 65 years old last month but due to booming business have not been able to celebrate the much appreciated anniversary. Finnegan said she will do on Ice Cream Day what she does every single day.
“We are just going to keep up with the conditions of having more natural ice cream than anybody in the world,” she said. “No secret. Just all real ingredients.”
Someone should tell that to other manufacturers.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Niederfrank's. The Star-News regrets the error.