Frozen cream and sugar: simple, yet perfect. Was it invented in the 1600s in the court of Charles I, or even earlier by the Emperor Nero who sent slaves to fetch ice from the mountains? Actually, the historical record points to ancient China as the birthplace of the world's favorite portable dessert. It was in 1774, on the eve of the American Revolution, that ice cream first arrived in the United States. But it took nearly another century before an ingenious New Jersey woman named Nancy Johnson invented a hand-cranked ice cream maker and America's love affair with that miraculous confection took off. Chocolate or vanilla, scooped or soft-served, in a cone or a cup -- maybe some of ice cream's popularity is due to its versatility. After all, you can opt to sit down to an elaborate banana split concoction, or you can just walk down the sidewalk with a waffle cone and let your favorite flavor melt in your mouth.