The other day I was called into the lair of Wm.™ Steven Humphrey—yes, I think lair is the best characterization of his office—and found him, face awash in the slight glow from his computer, feverishly scanning something on his screen.
“Hold on a second,” he said.
I stopped in my tracks, knowing full well the kind of firepower that is tapped, bolted, or in other ways concealed around his desk and person. Fearing that he had finally found the on-line videos from my previous life as an armature porn “star,” I began rehearsing the story I’d practiced dozens of times in my head about how I was young and broke and had fallen in love with a drifter named Jerry who claimed he was a professional photographer and just wanted to make me a famous model and…
Suddenly Steve looked up at me with a flat expression. “Come here,” he said.
I slowly approached his desk as he gestured to his computer screen, which I found displayed an array of ice cream cones.
“Check this out! Ice cream that turns into fucking pudding!” he said. His face brightened and his expression changed, now becoming a perfect Commedia dell'Arte mask of the expression: Say Whaaaaaaaaat!?
I stammered something unintelligible. I looked closer at the webpage. It appeared as if Cold Stone Creamery had released a new type of pudding ice cream for the summer.
“You know what this means?” asked Steve. “If they have ice cream that turns into pudding, then they can make ice cream turn into ANYTHING. You need to get on this!”
I mumbled assurances that I would indeed get on that as I backed slowly out the door, genuflecting as I went, as is the policy for exiting Steve’s lair. As I walked back to my desk, I could hear him shouting the various things Ice Cream should transform into:
“Candy! Tanks! Salads!”
Today I finally made it to Cold Stone Creamery where I purchased four small containers of their Jell-O Pudding ice cream: Butterscotch, Chocolate, Vanilla and the signature Butterscotch Velvet™ with Butterfinger, peanut butter cup, and caramel,
I brought the containers to the office where I was set upon by Matt Davis and a pod of interns. Steve had gone to lunch, and I warned everyone that we must save some for him or reap the sour crop of his vengeance.
“It has a weird texture!” “It doesn’t melt in your mouth!” “What is this? Marshmallow?” “Hey, what’s that liquid marshmallow stuff called, anyway?” “Oh, this is totally like frozen custard. I’ve had this in the mid-west, where I’m from.” “Yes, this is frozen custard exactly, mate.”
The comments went on like that…
As far as new ice cream technology is concerned, I’m in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” camp. I honestly do not see the appeal of a pudding ice cream. The flavor is fine (though it’s left an odd, saccharine flavor in my mouth), but the texture is immediately weird. A spoonful of Cold Stone Jell-O Pudding ice cream tastes like a cold fatty mousse. It’s pillowy while remaining heavy, and the characteristic it has of not melting on the tongue is troubling, causing one to basically swallow the small chilled bolus in one gulp.
After Steve came back from lunch, I told him of the remaining ice cream. He immediately tore open the freezer door and began sampling what was left. A strange calm came over him.
We agreed: the butterscotch is the best, followed by butterscotch with the additions, then chocolate, and finally the surprisingly bland vanilla.
Now, finally, to address the transformative properties of the new concoction. I’ve had a container sitting on my desk for a little over an hour. It has reached room temperature and is decidedly more solid than normal melted ice cream. It would be completely reasonable to describe the mess left in this small cup as pudding. Also, it tastes much like butterscotch pudding.
I can see the appeal of having an ice cream that does not melt, but instead transforms into another food. However, this is not, in fact, ice cream. It’s a perversion; an abomination. But if you’re into that, go for it.