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Ice Cream For Breakfast Day

The practice of eating ice cream for breakfast dates at least to the early twentieth century. An article that appeared in The Biloxi Daily Herald in June 1908 mentions a Philadelphia confectioner who encountered a customer who requested a quart of strawberry ice cream at their house before 7 a.m. every morning. At first, the confectioner thought it was a peculiarity, but then four or five more customers began making the request. He spoke to other confectioners and found they'd been getting similar requests. Although eating ice cream for breakfast is still a bit of an oddity today, the concept is not unheard of, wouldn't be questioned by confectioners, and is even celebrated with some holidays: Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (today) and Eat Ice Cream For Breakfast Day (February 18th).

On January 31 and February 1, 1966, a historic nor'easter blizzard hit the Northeast United States and blanketed it with snow. It was followed by a blast of frigid cold arctic air, which in turn was followed by lake-effect snow along the snow belts of the Great Lakes, including in Rochester, New York, where the snow banks piled higher than the height of children. The following Saturday, February 5, Florence J. Rappaport, a Rochester-area social worker and mother of six, was looking for a way to lift the spirits of her two youngest children, Joe, 7, and Ruth, 6, who were stuck inside the house because of the ice and snow. Sweets weren't often eaten in the Rappaport household, but Florence decided to serve her children ice cream for breakfast—something they would never forget. Ice Cream for Breakfast Day was born!

The family began celebrating Ice Cream for Breakfast Day every year. The children spread the word of the holiday to their friends and younger relatives, and later to their college roommates, who in turn spread it to others, and it is now celebrated around the world. By 1985 it was being celebrated in South Africa, England, New Zealand, Canada, and Israel, where Ruth was living. It has since been celebrated in China, Mexico, India, and other countries. Its popularity continued in Israel. In 2019, kiddush (ceremonial prayer) ice cream replaced cholent (Sabbath stew) in many synagogues, and more than 100,000 people in Israel's English-speaking Anglo community made a special breakfast kiddush with ice cream. Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is still particularly popular in Rochester. To her critics who told her that ice cream isn't healthy, Florence responded that she thought it was okay to have ice cream for breakfast once a year, and added "It's OK to have a little fun."

The official Ice Cream for Breakfast Day website, maintained by the Rappaport family, including Ruth and Joe, as well as Florence's granddaughter Rebecca, says that the day is "intended to liven up the first weekend of February with something silly and sweet." It says there are only three rules for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day: "1. Eat Ice Cream. 2. On the first Saturday of February. 3. For Breakfast." But it does suggest some ideas: "You can eat a scoop by yourself, or have a party with your closest friends. Or you can invite everyone you know. Surprise your children (or your parents), or look forward to Ice Cream for Breakfast Day for weeks."

Ice cream companies, organizations, and scoop shops celebrate with specials and events. Some use the day to raise money for charity. Jeni's Ice Creams, a company that delivers ice cream, sells it in grocery stores and has scoop shops, hosts festivities on each Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. They've made breakfast flavors in honor of the day, like Banana French Toast, and have transformed their Buttercrisp Waffle Cone into a French Toast Waffle Cone on the morning of Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, among organizing other scoop shop surprises. Moonlight Creamery, just outside of Rochester in Fairport, has offered exclusive ice cream flavors like oatmeal and bacon on the day and also hosts a charity fundraiser.

Some people put ice cream in their cereal bowls, while others invite family and friends over for parties, which may be in the form of ice cream buffet brunches. Parties may also have games and contests, such as having everyone draw a scene that involves ice cream, debating the best ice cream flavor, or writing ice cream haikus and voting on them. Whether eating ice cream at home alone, inviting friends and family over to share it with, or going to a scoop shop, this Saturday morning is filled with ice cream, because it's Ice Cream for Breakfast Day!

How to Observe Ice Cream For Breakfast Day

  • Go to an ice cream shop early in the day to have some ice cream! Some shops offer specials or host events on the day, so check around you! Jeni's, Moonlight Creamery, and Chocolate Shoppe are a few examples of shops that take part in the day.
  • If you own an ice cream shop, host an event. There are many breakfast food-inspired ice cream dishes you could create and serve in the day's honor.
  • Have some ice cream for breakfast at home. Top it with sprinkles, hot fudge, chocolate sauce, and fruit. There are many other ways you could enjoy it.
  • Host a party! Set up an ice cream brunch buffet. Organize games and contests such as writing ice cream haikus or debating the best ice cream flavors.
  • Follow the official Ice Cream for Breakfast Day Facebook page. They often share information about events taking place around the world on the day. If you have a public event you can share it with them there or through their website.
  • Celebrate online and add #IceCreamForBreakfastDay to your social media posts.
  • Pick up a copy of Ice Cream for Breakfast: If You Follow All the Rules, You Miss Half the Fun, which is about eating ice cream and other ways that readers "can break the rules, indulge themselves, and enhance the quality of their lives."

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