Adults are embracing nostalgia to try to feel like a kid again.

A survey for National Ice Cream Month, which is celebrated annually in July, found that more than half (55%) do many of the summer activities they used to as kids in order to bring back the feeling of childhood.

One of those activities people miss most from a childhood summertime, according to the research, is eating ice cream, with 39% of respondents calling out their favorite treat — just behind playing outside (45%) and family vacations (43%).

In line with National Ice Cream Month, the poll, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of I Love Ice Cream Cakes, revealed that the sweet dessert is still a crucial part of summertime, with 39% continuing to eat it — including 53% of respondents aged 77 and older.

Of the 2,000 American adults surveyed, eating ice cream was the top way people cooled off as a kid (38%), followed by jumping in a pool or lake and drinking a cold beverage (both at 36%). 

Americans long to feel like a kid again.
Americans long to feel like a kid again.
summertime ice cram survey
Americans do many of the summer activities they used to in childhood in order to bring back the childhood feel.

Other summertime activities adults have carried with them include spending days by the pool (35%) and riding bikes (35%). Gen Z respondents were more likely to participate in water balloon fights (42%), while millennials prefer backyard or outdoor games (37%).

The average person said they feel like a kid again four times a week during the summer, and 54% agreed that summer is the most nostalgic time of year.

Reasons summertime seems to bring on the sense of longing for childhood include a clear and relaxed mind from spending more time outside (53%), family tips that are reminiscent of their own childhood trips (51%) and sharing summertime traditions with their families (50%). 

summer ice cream survey
Research found that what people miss most from a childhood summer includes eating ice cream (39%).
summer ice cream survey
The average person said they feel like a kid again four times a week during the summer.

Some of the memories parents try to recreate with their kids include eating ice cream together (27%), going swimming (27%), having a barbecue (27%) and taking family vacations (27%).

People bring out their inner kid through activities such as eating ice cream (34%), family road trips (31%), blowing bubbles (29%) and riding bikes (29%).

The average person said eating ice cream makes them feel like their 10-year-old selves.

summer ice cream survey
The average person said eating ice cream makes them feel like their 10-year-old selves.
summertime ice cram survey
Some of the memories parents try to recreate with their kids include eating ice cream together (27%).

“Summertime desserts such as ice cream and ice cream cake are a shareable tradition that bridges generational gaps,” said Kimberly O’Brien, spokesperson for I Love Ice Cream Cakes. “No matter their age, 41% of adults recall their very first time biting into an ice cream cake.”

People like to experiment with their ice cream and try new things, too.

When asked about the weirdest ice cream toppings they’ve had, respondents answered with a wide range of unusual toppings, including avocado, onions, bacon bits, ketchup and mayonnaise, sweet pickles, green beans and even squid ink.

summer survey
People’s ice cream or ice cream cake preferences have changed as they got older.
summer survey
Vanilla wins in the debate of vanilla vs. chocolate.

Even though people had bizarre topping responses, classic ice cream flavors were still among people’s childhood favorites, including chocolate (32%), vanilla (31%) and strawberry (29%).

More than half of the participants said their ice cream or ice cream cake preferences have changed since childhood, but eating ice cream still makes people feel happy (36%), satisfied (34%) and relaxed (30%).

“Our results show these sweets aren’t just for the kids, but also the kids at heart,” O’Brien said.

Girl holding three ice cream cones with chocolate and strawberry creams.
People like to experiment with their ice cream and try new things.
Getty Images

Ice cream cake was people’s favorite way to eat ice cream (39%), followed by a classic cone (37%), and cup and milkshake tied for third at 36%.

“In this poll, ice cream cake was the No. 1 way fans enjoy ice cream,” O’Brien shared.

People’s favorite parts of ice cream cake were the layers (45%), the chocolate crunchies (42%) and the icing (38%).

“To celebrate National Ice Cream Month, we’re encouraging folks to share the fun by creating over-the-top ice cream cake decorations and making the cake the centerpiece of any summer gathering,” O’Brien added. “You can even make it a competition and have friends and family vote for the best cake decorations.”

Participants shared how far they’d go in order to score a lifetime supply of ice cream cake. Some said they would shave their eyebrows, travel over 5,000 miles, give up something — such as cell phones, their favorite streaming service, social media or coffee — for life, kiss a frog and do “anything legal.”



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