In 1966, on a dreary Saturday morning in Rochester, New York, Florence Rappaport's surprised her young children with ice cream for breakfast. As she scooped the creamy treat into bowls for her ecstatic offspring, Joe and Ruth, she formally announced, "Today is Ice Cream for Breakfast Day." And so, the social worker and mother of six created a holiday.
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On the first Saturday of the following year, Joe and Ruth, piously demanded to observe the holiday again. And over time, the tradition only grew stronger. When Joe and Ruth grew up and left for college, they brought the holiday with them, Joe to Columbia University and Ruth to Binghamton University. Joe took the holiday particularly seriously, hosting large gatherings with a variety of ice creams and toppings. After college, Ruth moved to Israel, taking Ice Cream for Breakfast day with her.
When Joe and Ruth and their college friends started their own families, many of them continued the tradition with their children and introduced it to friends. In 1994, Itzah C. Kret, a quirky artist based in Washington, D.C., attended an Ice Cream for Breakfast celebration hosted by Barry, a former roommate of Ruth's. An instant convert, Kret began zealously proselytizing.
“Life is about making beautiful things and introducing them to the world, and Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is a beautiful thing,” he told Haaretz.
Kret says he introduces the holiday to anyone he can. In 2004, he went so far as to start a website to help get the word out. Kret encourages fans to write in and maintains an ever-expanding list of celebrations on the homepage. According to the reports he’s received over the years, the holiday is mostly celebrated in the U.S. (nearly every state), Canada (nearly every province) and Israel (everywhere), but also in Australia, Bolivia, China, Egypt, England, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, Peru, Sudan, Switzerland and Uruguay.
Many celebrations are small family or close-friend affairs, but others are large public events. For instance, the Beth David Synagogue in Binghamton, New York, has held a gathering every year since 1978, and the Heights Jewish Center in Cleveland, Ohio, has celebrated since 1983, drawing about 100 celebrants every year.