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Two young boys eating ice cream, 1939.
Two young boys eating ice cream, 1939.Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Two young boys eating ice cream, 1939.
Melinda Bennett eating an ice cream cone.
Debutantes eating ice cream at an ice cream parlor.
A young boy eating ice cream, 1942.
A boy eating ice cream at the Kentucky State Fair, 1944.
A teenage boy in Iowa eating ice cream, 1945.
Businessman eating ice cream cone outside a drugstore, 1946.
Young girl eating ice cream, 1946.
Bathing suit model eating ice cream by a lake, 1946.
Little boy eating ice cream on the screened-in porch in Cape Cod, 1946.
Teenagers eating an ice cream cone together, 1947.
Kids enjoying ice cream at Linda Vista Shopping Center, 1948.
Triplets eating ice cream cones, Robert (L), Sheldon (C) and Ronald (R) Schwartz, 1949.
National Ice Cream Day
Balinese dancing girls eating ice cream, 1952.
Charles, Stephen and Kenneth Winston standing with cartons of ice cream, cones and cookies representing a year's consumption, 1953.
Boy eating ice cream cone at the circus in Madison Square Garden, 1953.
Two women enjoying ice cream cones at Iowa State Fair, 1955.
A young boy eating an ice cream cone at the local drugstore, 1957.
An "Or-bit" sundae in honor of astronaut John Glenn's orbital flight, 1962.
Chapman College students eating Italian ice cream while participating in four-month educational cruise to Greece and Italy, 1968.
Two young boys eating ice cream, 1939.
Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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These Vintage Ice Cream Photos Will Make Your Mouth Water

Updated: Jul 14, 2016 12:58 PM ET | Originally published: Jul 08, 2015

Brain freezes, sticky fingers and sugar rushes—oh, the sacrifices an ice cream addict makes for her dessert of choice. Though the treat has origins overseas, it is such a fixture of summertime in America that in 1984, President Ronald Reagan (also a connoisseur of jelly beans) declared July National Ice Cream Month. In his proclamation, Reagan called ice cream “a nutritious and wholesome food” and summoned Americans “to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” And, for those who require more specificity, there's an Ice Cream Day too, which falls on the third Sunday of the month.

And so it was decreed: Eating ice cream—at least for one month out of 12—is not only an American pastime, but an American duty.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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