Eating ice cream makes you happy because ingredients found in ice cream are likely to trigger the brain chemical serotin - that is what scientific researcher are now claiming.

According to research people who enjoy eating ice cream are twice as likely to be happy and relaxed than stressed, and did you know the UK has the third highest consumption of ice cream in Europe with an average of 8.1 litres per person a year.

But, nowhere compares to the US with an average of 21 litres, not even the Italians whose average consumption is 9.1 litres and ice cream is no longer considered a hot weather treat but as a food due to 90% of homes having freezers.

Vanilla is without exception the most popular flavour in the North US; the Australians go nuts over nuts and berries, and are partial for flavours such as plum roasted waffle seed or wild Roselle flower ice cream. Whilst in Thailand it is coconut with corn fernels and the Chinese don't actually eat ice cream as they prefer a cold concoction made out of partially hulled rice.

The US dairy industry uses 48% of the total imported vanilla, one of the most important ingredients of ice cream and the most favourite variety, and there are many, is Java. It's sweet, slightly smokey aroma and taste has made it one of the world's most popular flavourings.

There are over 1,000 ice cream companies in the UK producing tens of thousands of flavours, but despite this, vanilla remains the favourite being chosen nine times out of ten and the UK's consumption of ice cream represents one of the largest packaged grocery sectors, with sales reaching an estimated £.1.49 billion.

Ice cream is a mixture of cream, milk, sugar, stabilisers and flavourings and most ice cream contains more milk protein than in the same weight of milk and fat is also necessary in the proper quantity to provide energy and it normally contains Vitamins A and D.

If a product is labelled "Dairy Ice Cream" the fat has to come from milk, while a product labelled "Ice Cream" may contain vegetable fat and to make an ice cream have its' 'fluffy'texture, air is added. The more air, or overrun which is its technical term, the more 'fluffy' the ice cream will be.

Not only is ice cream becoming more exotic with flavours such as Dark Chocolate and Pecans or Pralines and Cream, manufacturers are also going for the slightly bizarre flavours for example: Cranberry, Port, Sage and Pecans, Garlic, Avocado, Sweetcorn and even Guinness stout and whisky.

But, before you dash off to the nearest supermarket for a one litre tub of 'Whisky Ice Cream', just remember most ice creams contain some synthetic colour, so the richer in colour it may appear, does not necessarily mean more in flavour.