By Denise McCarty
As temperatures soar in the summer, ice cream sales increase. It is fitting then that in the United States, July is National Ice Cream Month and that National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of the month (July 17 in 2016).
President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 proclamation of this national month and day begins: “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.”
Despite the popularity of ice cream in the United States, only seven U.S. stamps feature ice cream — and five of these are just a couple of weeks old, all part of the June 30 Soda Fountain Favorites issue. The five forever (47¢) stamps in the set depict a double-scoop ice cream cone, an egg cream, a banana split, a root beer float, and a hot fudge sundae.
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The previous two U.S. ice cream stamps were issued in 1995 (Scott 3000o) and 1998 (3182e) as part of the Comic Strip Classics and Celebrate the Century series, respectively. Both picture ice cream cones.
Sweden is the only other country to issue a set of stamps devoted to ice cream. The five stamps were issued May 12, 2011, for use on summer greetings.
The set includes four se-tenant (side-by-side) self-adhesive booklet stamps (Scott 2664) showing an ice cream bar, a dripping ice cream cone, a sundae, and a cone dipped in chocolate. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only stamp to show a dipped cone.
A banana split is pictured on the coil stamp, which has moisture-activated gum.
All of the stamps are nondenominated. The word “brev” inscribed on them indicates that they pay the basic domestic rate. Paul Kuhlhorn and Eva Liljefors of the firm Fellow Designers designed these Swedish stamps.
Eurest, a global leading provider of food services, had this to say about Sweden’s ice cream habits, in June 2014: “We Swedes are an ice cream-loving people; we eat the second most ice cream in all of Europe. According to new statistics from Arla [a dairy food company], the Swedes are expected to eat 360 tons of ice cream per week this summer.
“On the list of Swedes favourite flavours are the classic flavours vanilla and chocolate, among the contenders we find flavours like liquorice, pecan and pistachio. According to the survey the most ice cream is eaten in central Norrland, almost half stated that they eat ice cream at least twice a week …”
New Zealanders also love their ice cream, consistently ranking among the top ice-cream-consuming countries in the world.
This love is reflected on five postage stamps that not only picture ice cream but also celebrate it as part of the national heritage, or kiwiana.
On Aug. 6, 2008, New Zealand issued a pane of 26 50¢ stamps called “The A to Z of New Zealand.” Representing one of the letters of the alphabet, each stamp shows an item of the country’s “culture, history, heritage and downright kiwiana,” according to New Zealand Post.
However, it is not the “I” stamp that stands for ice cream (“I” is for the Interislander ferry service), but the “J” stamp next to it. This stamp is inscribed “J is for Jelly Tip,” and shows a chocolate-covered ice cream bar.
Tip Top, the company that created and manufactured the Jelly Tip, describes this ice cream bar: “A delicious combination of creamy vanilla ice cream, made from fresh milk and cream, tipped with delicious raspberry flavoured jelly, and coated in choc. A yummy jelly treat on a stick kids can enjoy wherever they are at home or out and about.”
Tip Top started as an ice cream parlor in Wellington in 1936. In the history section of its website (www.tiptop.co.nz), it shows New Zealand’s first ice cream stamp issued April 27, 1994 (Scott 1211) in a booklet of 10 called “Kiwiana.” The stamp depicts an ice cream cone with the words “Hokey Pokey Ice Cream” on a ribbon at the bottom.
The flavor was introduced in the 1940s. In announcing this Kiwiana stamp, New Zealand Post described hokey pokey as “A crunchy honey-comb toffee added to vanilla ice cream. Simple! Delicious and nothing quite like it is found elsewhere, distinctively New Zealand.”
Another hokey pokey cone made an appearance on coil and booklet stamps issued March 23, 2011 (Scott 2352, 2357). The stamps share the same design showing a cone on a background of blue sky.
In place of a denomination, these stamps are inscribed “kiwistamp” and each pays the basic domestic letter rate. They are intended for domestic use only, according to New Zealand Post.
The latest ice cream stamp from New Zealand is part of the Kiwi Kitchen pane of 18 se-tenant 80¢ stamps issued July 1, 2015.
New Zealand Post said, “In this retro-themed stamp issue, we celebrate the classic Kiwi dishes that New Zealanders know and love … “
In addition to showing the cone and the name hokey pokey, the stamp design includes “We all Scream for Ice Cream,” a chant that began as a college novelty song and was recorded in the 1920s by Waring’s Pennsylvanians.
That chant isn’t the only musical reference found on ice cream stamps. An Australian stamp pictures opera singer Nellie Melba and peach melba, the dessert named after her (Scott 3070).
When issuing this stamp May 15, 2009, in a set called Just Desserts, Australia Post reported that this combination of poached peaches and raspberry sauce served with vanilla ice cream was created in 1892 by Auguste Escoffier, head chef at the Savoy Hotel in London, in honor of the singer.
Australia Post said, “Escoffier served the Peach Melba at a dinner Dame Nellie was hosting, and presented it in an ice sculpture of a swan inspired by her performance in Lohengrin, one of Wagner’s romantic operas.”
Stamps from St. Lucia (Scott 551) and Sierra Leone (2128) reproduce Pablo Picasso’s Man with a Straw Hat and an Ice Cream Cone, painted in 1938. The painting belongs to the Musee Picasso-Paris, which described it as one of a series of self-portraits in homage to Vincent van Gogh.
The St. Lucia stamp was issued in 1981, part of a set marking the 100th anniversary of Picasso’s birth on Oct. 25, 1881, in Malaga, Spain, and the Sierra Leone stamp is part of a 1988 set marking the 25th anniversary of his death on April 8, 1973.
Also pictured on a stamp from Sierra Leone is Norman Rockwell’s Ice Cream Carrier (Scott 2672a). The cover illustration for the July 13, 1940, issue of The Saturday Evening Post, it shows a young man carrying two dripping ice cream cones through a sea of beach umbrellas. The stamp was issued in 2004 to mark the 25th anniversary of Rockwell’s death (1894-1978).
Two stamps issued a few months apart feature cartoon art and ice cream.
The first was the U.S. stamp showing Nancy and Slugo from the comic strip Nancy enjoying ice cream cones. This 32¢ stamp (Scott 3000o) was one of 20 different designs in the Oct. 1, 1995, Comic Strip Classics pane.
On Jan. 8, 1996, St. Vincent issued a souvenir sheet picturing Donald Duck scooping ice cream in an ice cream parlor. The selvage surrounding this $6 stamp shows Daisy Duck about to dig into a three-scoop (vanilla, strawberry and chocolate) sundae and Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie sharing a fizzy ice cream float.
This souvenir sheet is part of a larger set showing Disney characters engaged in a variety of occupations.
A handful of stamps relate to the selling of ice cream. While most of these show the ice cream seller with a cart or a truck, the U.S. 32¢ St. Louis World’s Fair stamp (Scott 3182e) in the Celebrate the Century series is an exception.
The Celebrate the Century series highlighted events, achievements and the popular culture of each decade of the 20th century, starting with the 1900s on a pane of 15 stamps issued Feb. 3, 1998. This pane includes a stamp for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair picturing a Ferris wheel in the background and two children with ice cream cones in the foreground. The latter image is based on a photograph that shows members of the Lyon family eating ice cream cones at the fair. The original photograph is part of the Lyon collection of the Missouri Historical Society.
The key to the vendor aspect of this stamp is found on the text on the reverse: “The Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 was also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. Americans were already enjoying ice cream, but the ice cream cone was popularized at the fair.”
The Library of Congress provides more information about the fair’s connection with selling ice cream cones on its website in a Today in History entry for July 23: “On July 23, 1904, according to some accounts, Charles E. Menches conceived the idea of filling a pastry cone with two scoops of ice-cream and thereby invented the ice-cream cone. He is one of several claimants to that honor: Ernest Hamwi, Abe Doumar, Albert and Nick Kabbaz, Arnold Fornachou, and David Avayou all have been touted as the inventor(s) of the first edible cone.
“Interestingly, these individuals have in common the fact that they all made or sold confections at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. It is from the time of the Fair that the edible “cornucopia,” a cone made from a rolled waffle, vaulted into popularity in the United States.”
The site also mentions Italo Marchiony’s 1903 patent for the ice cream cone, adding that “ … the patent drawings show the device as a molded container rather than the rolled waffle seen at the Fair … ”
According to Marchiony’s daughter, Jane Marchiony Paretti, her father was among the exhibitors at the fair “selling ice cream in his patented cups. He could make the ice cream fresh every day, but the cups had to be brought from Hoboken, and he ran out. That was when he turned to the waffle maker in the next booth and asked him to roll the waffles into the next best thing to a cup — a cone.”
The quote from Paretti comes from a Sept. 14, 2005, article in The Hudson Reporter based on an earlier article published by the Hoboken Historical Museum.
Before the St. Louis World’s Fair, Paretti, who had immigrated from Italy in 1895, was serving lemon ices and ice cream from a pushcart on Wall Street.
Historic pushcarts are shown on stamps from Italy and Uruguay issued in 2006 and 2010, respectively.
The 0.60 stamp showing a man selling gelato (Scott Italy 2729) is part of a Made in Italy series, and the 30-peso stamp (Uruguay 2295) is part of a series showing traditional occupations of Uruguay. The stamp is inscribed “El Heladero,” Spanish for “ice cream man.”
Like Uruguay, Chile features an ice cream vendor on a stamp in its Occupation series, but this 50-peso stamp issued in 2008 (Scott 1498) shows a more modern version of the pushcart.
Ice cream street vendors are pictured on two stamps from Singapore, one in a Past Street Scenes set issued in 2015 (Scott 1669-1674) and the other in a 1999 booklet promoting kindness (895). The message on the latter stamp is “be generous.”
In 1998, South Africa commemorated the 100th anniversary of the food and beverage company Clover Ltd. by issuing a souvenir sheet picturing one of its dairy trucks (Scott 1095A). A large sundae is painted on the side of the truck between the words “Ice Cream” and “Model Dairy.” Twistees and Eskimo Pies also are advertised.
An ice cream truck, complete with an ice cream cone sculpture on the top, is pictured on a Belgian Christmas stamp issued Oct. 28, 2002, in a pane of 10 forming a single design (Scott 1932). Ice cream cones decorated to look like Santa’s cap and a snowman also are included in this cartoon-style stamp pane.
The Belgian Christmas issue aside, ice cream stamps in general focus on summer. For example, the aforementioned Swedish stamps were issued for summer greetings.
Likewise, Finland included an ice cream cone stamp in its Summer Feelings set of May 8, 2015. The design of this nondenominated first-class stamp shows a close-up of a woman eating a strawberry ice cream cone, which is slowly melting in the summer sun. A melting ice cream cone also is pictured on the first-day cancel.
Although it doesn’t specifically mention summer, the children’s design illustrated on a 1980 stamp from Bulgaria (Scott 2711) clearly represents that season. It shows two girls eating ice cream cones with a giant shining sun in the background. Also pictured is the emblem of the International Year of the Child, which was observed in 1979.
British, French and German stamps connect ice cream with summer vacations.
A giant soft-serve ice cream cone sculpture is shown on the nondenominated first-class stamp in Great Britain’s May 15, 2007, Beside the Seaside set (Scott 2463). The cone has a chocolate candy bar stuck in it; such cones are nicknamed “99s.” A seaside resort is shown in the background of this photograph. A self-adhesive booklet version of this stamp was issued a year later, on May 13, 2008 (2573).
France issues special stamps each year for use on vacation mail. Stamp designer and children’s book illustrator Henri Galeron created the designs for the 2014 Vacation stamps featuring cartoon animals engaging in a variety of summertime experiences, including a dog licking an ice cream bar on the beach (Scott 4608).
A dish of ice cream (one scoop each of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) is one of the circular symbols of summertime illustrated on Germany’s 2004 Europa stamp with the theme of holidays, as in vacation holidays (Scott 2281).
An even smaller depiction of ice cream can be found on a Swiss semipostal issued in 2011 (Scott B745). Among the tiny symbols shown on this 85-centime+40c Pro Juventute stamp is a pink ice cream cone in the lower-right corner.
One of the more unusual ice cream stamps doesn’t fit into any of the aforementioned categories. This Portuguese stamp (Scott 3158) was issued Oct. 2, 2009, in a set of representing the five senses. The Taste stamp shows an ice cream bar with a bite out of it, and to add to the sensation, the stamp was printed on vanilla-flavored gum.
Portugal wasn’t the first, though, to have ice-cream-flavored gum. In 2006, Austria Post collaborated with Haagen-Dazs to issue promotional stamps showing five flavors of ice cream and replicating the taste of each on the stamp gum, according to Gary Goodman, who collects ice cream on stamps and other topics.
Goodman said that although Austria’s Haagen-Dazs-flavored stamps are not listed in stamp catalogs, they were valid as postage stamps and could be used on mail. In an article in the October 2011 Judaica Thematic Society Newsletter, Goodman reported that all 12,000 of the stamp booklets and the related postcards were given away two weeks into a loyalty campaign (buy 10 scoops of ice cream and receive the stamps and card).
Taste also is emphasized on the most recent ice cream stamp issued by Aland a few months ago on March 18.
Part of a multination series focusing on Nordic cuisine, the stamp pictures a dessert prepared by local chef Michael Bjorklund, combining parfait glace, chocolate and buckthorn berries and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. For an even-more tempting view of this ice cream creation, see the enlarged image of it on Aland Post’s maximum card.
Thanks to Goodman, and Jack Andre Denys and Vera Felts of the American Topical Association (www.americantopicalassn.org) for supplying information about ice cream on stamps, as well as on postmarks, postage meters and postal stationery.
You can expand the topic of ice cream on stamps by searching for and adding any of those aforementioned items, or you can dip into the history and production of ice cream to increase the scope of the collection.