The States That Eat The Most (And The Least) Ice Cream

Almost everyone loves a refreshing bowl of ice cream on a hot day, but not every part of the United States loves ice cream equally. While many of us wouldn't turn down a scoop of ice cream, some states eat far more ice cream than others.

The ice cream industry is a giant in the United States — it's worth $10.6 billion. With 126,462 people employed in the industry as of 2021, America clearly enjoys the frozen treat. American consumers scoop ice cream by the pound — the average American scarfs down 20 pounds of ice cream each year. 

But which states are on the high end of that average, and which aren't as ice cream-centric as the rest? It turns out, the states that eat the most and least ice cream are pretty geographically far from each other, which might explain the differences in how often they eat this frozen treat.

California eats the most ice cream

The state that eats the most ice cream is known for its beautiful ocean views, theme parks, and mostly sunny weather. If you're picturing soaking up the sun in California right now, you have the right idea. California is the state that likes ice cream the most, according to research from Gravy Analytics compiled by Zippia.

Okay, okay, other states love ice cream plenty, too. But California has the most ice cream shops out of any state. California boasts a whopping 4,263 ice cream shops for ice cream lovers to visit. And with so many popular tourist destinations in the state, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Anaheim, and San Diego, it's probably not much of a shock that people are reaching for ice cream. (What's better than eating ice cream on vacation?) 

California also the most populous state, so there are likely more ice cream eaters there than anywhere else in the country. And, of course, many California cities, including Long Beach, the city where people eat the most ice cream in the country, have beautiful, sunny weather — perfect for satisfying those ice cream cravings on hot days.

Which state eats the least ice cream?

Some states are so full of ice that eating ice cream isn't exactly appealing. It's no shock that the state that eats the least ice cream has some pretty chilly weather. Yup, you won't find as many Minnesotans chowing down on ice cream after dinner as you would in all the other states.

Minnesota may not eat all that much ice cream, but it has all the right tools for producing the ice cream Californians love so much. As of 2016, Minnesota has the seventh-highest number of dairy cows in the country and is the number-eight state in milk production; the state is clearly equipped to manufacture a high quantity of ice cream. Although it doesn't have anywhere near as many ice cream shops as California does, Minnesota isn't without some must-visit ice cream spots to score a top-notch cone or sundae. 

With an average annual temperature of 40.1 degrees Fahrenheit, Minnesota is one of the coldest states — warm meals and drinks may appeal more on those consistently chilly days than ice cream would. California may have the highest ice cream consumption in the country (and incidentally, the most dairy cows, too), but Minnesota still has what it takes to manufacture the ice cream we eat so much of as a country.