One of our favorite ice cream concoctions was purportedly invented on this date in 1881 to bypass the law. The ice cream sundae was the brainchild of drug store owner Edward Berner of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, although Ithaca, New York has a competing claim. That day was a Sunday, and because of the strict Sabbath laws at the time, he was unable to fill a customer’s order for a flavored soda water. So, Berner improvised, putting chocolate syrup — then used only to flavor soda water — on top of ice cream in a dish. The result was the first ice cream “Sunday.” While drug store soda fountains are gone, there are more than 11,500 ice cream shops across the country, keeping over 90,000 employees busy making delights for customers worth nearly $3.2 billion a year. Profile America is in its 17th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sunday, July 7th. On this date 115 years ago, the U.S. began absorbing an island paradise en route to making it a treasured part of the nation, as President William McKinley signed a resolution annexing Hawaii. A short time later, Congress made Hawaii an incorporated territory of the U.S., which it remained until achieving statehood in 1959. For most Americans on the mainland, Hawaii is the ultimate vacation, with its lovely scenery and average annual temperature of around 72 degrees. Tourism, defense, and raising sugar cane and pineapples are the mainstays of the economy. Almost 1.4 million people call Hawaii home — about half of them Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, July 6th. The month of July has put its stamp on the U.S. Postal Service history. At the beginning of the month in 1847, the first post office issued stamps went on sale. A five-cent stamp pictured Benjamin Franklin, while one costing 10 cents honored George Washington. Before then, there were no uniform stamps — a haphazard system of private postal services around the country had issued their own. And in 1963, the postal service introduced the five-digit zone improvement plan — or ZIP Code — to help speed mail service. That year, Americans sent nearly 68 billion pieces of mail. Lately, the postal service handles 170 billion pieces of mail annually. You can find current data on the country’s economy by downloading the new “America’s Economy” mobile application at <www.census.gov/mobile>.