If you have ever met me, even briefly, you know a few things to be true:
- I have an incredibly sarcastic sense of humor
- I know way too much about pop culture (obvs)
- I have a deep and abiding love for ice cream
- I will cut a bitch
Ignore #4…I’m not sure how that got in there (but you’ve been warned).
My obsession with ice cream probably borders on the unhealthy, and not just because of the caloric intake. If I could, I would have ice cream every single day. Ben and Jerry are practically close personal friends at this point. When a new flavor of Ben and Jerry’s comes out, I’m like a lion stalking a gazelle, searching every store until I can find it. Sarah McLachlan’s “Ice Cream” is one of my favorite songs; I’d probably use it as my wedding song if I ever get married because if I think someone is better than ice cream, that’s probably the person I should be spending my life with. The irony of this love of ice cream is that I’m pretty sure that I am slightly lactose intolerant. So every time I have ice cream, there is a legitimate chance that it is going to make me sick afterward. I don’t care. This isn’t a rational love affair.
So when news came down that there was going to be a temporary pop-up Museum of Ice Cream in New York City, I knew that I had to go. I also knew that tickets for this thing would sell out quickly, so I jumped on the opportunity as soon as I had a vague idea of my schedule. I didn’t want to miss out. I was right to move on this quickly, as all the dates of the pop-up quickly sold out. I heard rumors that they may be taking the pop-up on the road to other cities, which is definitely a good idea. Just in the time I was standing in line waiting to enter, a ton of people who wanted to go in were turned away because they hadn’t pre-bought their tickets. There is apparently a 70,000 person wail list for tickets and people are selling their Craigslist for top dollar. Everyone loves ice cream.
Tickets were timed so that only a certain number of people could enter the museum at a time. This was important since the space wasn’t particularly big. We entered in groups of 10 or so and had to go through the stations with our group. Our first stop was to get some ice cream, naturally. A rotating group of specialty ice cream shops were featured each week with a different sweet treat for visitors to sample. We got to try a boysenberry rose milk jam flavor from McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream and it was delicious. Sadly, I was too busy devouring the ice cream to get a photo of it, but it was beautiful, with crumbles from Maman bakery sprinkled in.
The next room featured edible balloons that were concocted from some witch’s brew of sugar and helium. The room was also surrounded with ice cream cones. Guests were encouraged to suck in the helium to change their voices. It was cool to watch them make the balloons, though our group lost some time in this room as there was so complication in making the balloons. This meant that we merged with some of the group behind us, so we were a larger group in a small space, which made it difficult to take photos.
The next room didn’t have anything to eat (boo!), but featured an interactive exhibit where every guest was asked to add a scoop of ice cream to “Zorn’s magic chalice” (corporate tie-in with Fox) to create an un-melting giant sundae. Of course, the chalice isn’t magical and what you are scooping isn’t actually ice cream (shh…it’s actually vegetable shortening), but it’s a cool visual nonetheless.
The weakest part of the exhibit was the chocolate room, mostly because there really wasn’t anything to do or see there. The whole room smelled like chocolate, which was cool, but that was the extent of it. I thought that there was supposed to be some sort of chocolate fountain, but perhaps that wasn’t working when I went. There were cushions to lounge on and the Willy Wonka theme song played in the background, but no one had much interest in spending time in there since right beyond the curtain of this room was what I think most people were excited about……
….the pool of sprinkles!
Now, I don’t even like sprinkles all that much; when given the choice to choose something with or without sprinkles, I always choose without. I didn’t like them much as a kid and having to sort a jar of sprinkles by color when I was pledging didn’t do much to increase my affinity for the little sugary confectionery. But even I was pretty psyched to get to swim in a pool of sprinkles since when the hell was that opportunity going to provide itself again? Plus I knew this would make an awesome Instagram photo, which is pretty much my driving force for most things in life. The pool was about 3 feet deep, but you could pretty much submerge yourself if you wanted to. This is where the size of our group became most problematic, as everyone was trying to take photos and there wasn’t enough room for everyone to maneuver. This was especially an issue since there was a woman in our group who was under the impression that the museum was for her own personal photo shoot and the rest of us were just people that were in her way. She took up half the pool doing elaborate poses for her fiancé. She is lucky that I didn’t invoke item #4 above.
Still, despite her shenanigans, the sprinkle pool was definitely the highlight of the whole experience. That’s what most people are impressed with when I tell them about the museum and really who can blame them? It was magical, even with a diva taking up all the space.
The next room involved food again, which is always a bonus in my book. We were given a candy that would alter our taste buds – what would normally taste sour would be sweet. I probably should have asked some more questions before I just randomly popped said candy in my mouth – like how long this alteration would last – but if you can’t blindly trust people at the Ice Cream Museum, then who can you trust? It took about two minutes for the candy to work its magic, so that gave use time to look around at the ice cream-inspired art work that decorated the room.
When the time was up, we were given more ice cream that was garnished with lemon slices. The ice cream mysteriously appeared from behind a wall – a hand would suddenly pop out and present us with some ice cream, which added to the mystery of it all. We were instructed to eat the lemon slices first and I’ll be damned if those magic little candies didn’t work. The lemon slices still had the taste of lemon, but it was softened and not tart at all. I don’t know that it worked for everyone, but it certainly worked for me. The effects wore off in about 30 minutes or so, which is a good thing as I do enjoy the sweet and sour combination.
The final room had some things to play on. There was a see-saw in the shape of an ice cream scooper and a swing that looked like an ice cream sandwich. There was also a little kiosk selling ice cream related items. I did give the ice cream charm bracelet a look, but ultimately decided against it. Fiscally responsibility and whatnot.
The whole experience took about 25 minutes and was a lot of fun. The sprinkle pool alone was worth the trip down to NYC and there are plenty of fun photo opportunities. Believe it or not, even after having two ice cream portions in the museum, I went and got ice cream again later that afternoon after my visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art (across the street from the Ice Cream Museum). I had never tried Ample Hills Creamery and I had a small cone of The Munchies (pretzel-infused ice cream with clusters of Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels and mini M&Ms). I have no regrets.
If you are lucky enough to have a ticket for the Ice Cream Museum, you’ll have a good time. If not, maybe you can fill your own pool up with sprinkles to imitate the experience (if you do this, PLEASE send me photos!).