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Rochester Mom’s Decision to Serve Ice Cream for Breakfast Sparks International Holiday

icecreamWhen most Americans think of breakfast, they probably think of cereal, eggs or pancakes. Adults might include coffee in their ideal breakfast, with about 65% of Americans drinking the caffeinated beverage with their morning meal. But a tradition started in Rochester, NY, puts another favorite on the menu once a year: ice cream.

The first Saturday of each February is National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, and the holiday requires exactly what its title suggests. It was started in the 1960s by Rochester resident Florence Rappaport who, legend has it, served ice cream for breakfast on a February morning to her six children to help them beat the winter doldrums. The Rappaport children continued the tradition, and their children in turn spread it all over the world.

National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day has now been celebrated internationally, in Nepal, Namibia, Germany, Honduras and China, and is said — at least on the Internet — to be particularly popular in Israel.

The tradition’s inaugural year isn’t known for sure, but it’s thought to be 1966, when a blizzard buried Rochester in several feet of snow and closed schools, leaving children stuck inside with few distractions. The details, Ruth Rappaport Kramer (the youngest of Florence’s children) told the Democrat and Chronicle this year, are less important than the overall fun and impact of the holiday. “We don’t have to be too factual,” she said.

Calories for a Cause
The charms of the tradition are evident, even to its youngest celebrants. When asked by the D and C to explain on Feb. 7 why National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is better than even Christmas, six-year-old Cole Pranis of Fairport had a simple answer: “Because we get more dessert.”

Eating dessert for breakfast might count as an end in itself for many diners. But some ice cream shops — including the local spot Moonlight Creamery — have made National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day more meaningful by running charity events on the holiday.

Heidi Grenek, the co-owner of Moonlight Creamery, said she actually learned about the holiday on an online forum for owners of ice cream shops before bringing the tradition back to the Rochester area.

Now, Moonlight Creamery has been participating in the tradition for around seven years, each time donating the proceeds of the shop’s morning sales to charity. This year, as for the past two years, profits will go to Holy Childhood, and Grenek said she expects to donate approximately $1,600. Previous recipients included the Western NY chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.