The Biggest Ice Cream States Aren't What You'd Expect

It makes sense that more southern states would sell the most ice cream each year. After all, a cold treat on a hot day can be the perfect way to refresh your taste buds and southern states experience more hot weather than the rest of the country. Despite the climate, however, that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, it's actually the Great Lakes region that consumes the most each year, according to Readers Digest.

This region encompasses Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois and one of Wisconsin's nicknames is "America's Dairyland" for a reason. The state takes second in overall milk production in the United States, thanks to its over 7,000 dairy farms. These farms produce an average of 2.44 billion pounds of milk each month, which is then turned into yogurt, ice cream, cheese, or made ready to drink.

Still, it does ring true that customers enjoy a scoop of ice cream on a warm summer day — most of the billion gallons of ice cream sold in 2020 were produced between March and July of that year.

There are a few region-specific flavors to enjoy

The Midwest region, which includes some of those Great Lakes states, offers some unique ice cream flavors. While they may be available to purchase nationally, they're certainly more popular in this region as compared to anywhere else.

Blue Moon ice cream is one of these, and it gets its name from its vibrant appearance. The flavor, though, is a little more difficult to understand. Some taste testers note hints of vanilla or marshmallow, while others insist on a variety of fruits — even comparing the mysterious flavor to some popular breakfast cereals.

Superman ice cream, which debuted in Detroit in the 1920s, is also popular. Resembling a fruitier version of Neapolitan ice cream, each carton combines three brightly-colored ice creams, with two of those taking inspiration from Midwest-specific flavors. The red portion is flavored like strawberries, taking its taste from Faygo's Red Pop, and the blue portion gets its flavor from Blue Moon. The two are then tied together with a bright yellow lemon flavor in between.

The region is starting to break into ice cream production

There are a few ice cream chains that got their start in the Great Lakes region – the most famous of which is undoubtedly Dairy Queen. The first Dairy Queen location opened in Joliet, Illinois back in 1940 and today, the chain has over 4,300 locations nationwide.

Another chain with an Illinois origin story is Oberweis Dairy, which sells cartons of milk, butter, sour cream, cheese, and of course, cartons of ice cream. But if you just want to satisfy your sweet tooth, customers can grab a sweet scoop in-store across the Midwest region.

Though California still holds the lead in terms of ice cream production, a few bigger name brands that you can find in grocery stores have made their homes in the Midwest as well. Tillamook has an ice cream manufacturing facility in Illinois, while Talenti and Haagen Dazs both operate out of Minnesota. 

Despite other regions having the upper hand in terms of whipping up batches of ice cream, the Great Lakes area will continue to be those that enjoy it the most.