Heather Visits The Museum of Ice Cream

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If you have ever met me, even briefly, you know a few things to be true:

  1. I have an incredibly sarcastic sense of humor
  2. I know way too much about pop culture (obvs)
  3. I have a deep and abiding love for ice cream
  4. 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.2016-08-17 13.58.36

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!).

Ron Burgundy Wednesday

I am currently without my car, as it sits at the garage awaiting its final diagnosis about why it has been so jumpy lately. I’ve had this car for over 11 years and this is the first real problem that I’ve had with it, so while I anticipate a semi-expensive resolution I can’t really complain. The car has taken me on many of my pop culture adventures and while I am sure we are ending our partnership sooner rather than later, I’m hoping to at least make it through the winter before I have to go car shopping. I’ve been amazingly lucky in the car department – I’ve had only two cars since I’ve turned 16 and got 10+ years out of both of them. Not too shabby.

I dropped my car off at the garage last night, so I was effectively home-bound most of the evening once I got a ride back to my apartment. I decided to take advantage of my stranded status to read Ron Bugundy’s new book, Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings. As a fan of Anchorman, I was curious what exactly this faux biography would be like. Would the jokes work on paper as well as they do in the films? Was this a shameless money grab, timed to tie in with the release of the new Anchorman movie in December? Would the memoir be completely silly?

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The answer to all three of these questions is yes. While Let Me Off at the Top is not any work of great literature (contrary to what Mr. Burgundy will tell you), it was a fairly amusing read. It doesn’t really add much to the storylines from either Anchorman movie – he skips over the time that is chronicled in his “documentaries” – it is a fun little trifle that fans of the franchise will get a kick out off. It is definitely a shameless tie in with the new movie, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the book is a complete exercise in lunacy, I found myself quietly chuckling during a number of passages. It helps if you can imagine the book narrated by Will Ferrell in character. Whoever actually wrote this book has a pretty good understanding of Burgundy and the memoir feels like an extension of what we’ve seen in Anchorman (and what I expect we’ll see in Anchorman 2). The author gets the comic sensibility just right.

So what exactly is in a memoir by legendary newsman Ron Burgundy? As the title indicated, Let Me Off at the Top! is not necessary a cohesive chronological account of the character’s life, but a collection of random musings and stories. It covers some of Burgundy’s early life in Haggleworth, Iowa as the youngest of a rough and tumble brood of eight boys but it also jumps around to cover the formation of his news team, his rules for surviving a prison riot and how to woo a woman and his night of passion with Bruce Lee. The book also includes the first chapter of another book that Burgundy is hoping to write on the history of Mexico. The stories are peppered with references to celebrities and other newscasters and there are occasionally photos interspersed in-between his legendary tales.  He also randomly chronicles his on-going feud with his neighbor over a leaf blower.

Half the fun of the book is the sheer lunacy of the stories and the unpredictable nature of the narrative. The book may be silly, but it is not boring. You never know when a story about one thing will lead to something totally unexpected: a story about jackalope hunting with Bobby Kennedy and Peter Lawford leads to a discussion of the splendor of the Las Vegas breakfast buffet and camping trips with Channel 4 news team. The book is all over the place, but in the best way possible. There is a story about a mission he did for President George H.W. Bush that is mostly redacted. He pens his own “new and improved” lyrics to the National Anthem. He outs Barbra Streisand and Tom Brokaw as lovers. He is pro-gay rights. You literally have no idea what is going to be “revealed” in the next paragraph; I really don’t know how they came up with some of this stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of pot was involved.

Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings is in no way required readings and walks a very fine line between being absolutely hilarious and completely stupid. It doesn’t always walk that line well, but the bonus is that because the book hops around so much, it usually rights itself pretty quickly. This is not a sophisticated book; there is plenty of sophomoric humor, which shouldn’t be unexpected if you know the movies (and if you don’t know the movies, why are you reading this?). Some of the wording is a little repetitive and it totally overuses exclamation points, but that is in keeping with the Burgundy character. I pre-ordered the Kindle version of the book for under $5, which I think is about the right price for it; I don’t think you’d want to bother springing for the hardcover version. You really have to be a fan of Anchorman to get anything out of this book; if you found the movie lacking, you aren’t going to dig the book at all. But if you frequently tell people that “milk was a bad choice” than you might find the book a fun little diversion. It isn’t very long (a smart movie for a novelty book like this) and is instantly quotable. I’m sure I’ll be pulling out a few nuggets to drop into my regular lexicon. GQ rounds up some of their favorite passages, but I think they missed some of the best. Most of the celebrities that he references in the book are dead (Burgundy is, after all, 73 years old now according to the book), but I’m curious what Doris Kearns Goodwin, Katie Couric and Brian Williams, among others, think about their inclusion. I’d be flattered personally, but something tells me that Streisand doesn’t have a great sense of humor.

In keeping with the Burgundy theme, I also wanted to give an update on my quest for Ben and Jerry’s new Anchorman inspired flavor, Scotchy Scotch Scotch. After several weeks of making unnecessary trips to various supermarkets in my quest to find it, I finally stumbled upon it this week at our local Wal-mart. I am almost embossed to say how excited I got when my eyes glanced across the freezer and spotted this inside:

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If they check the security footage, they will see one happy girl. I was partially excited to finally be able to sample the flavor, but I was also relieved that I completed my search, since I wound up buying a lot of other flavors of ice cream while looking for Scotchy Scotch Scotch. I felt weird leaving the grocery store without buying anything if they didn’t have the Anchorman ice cream, so I wound up with a freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s that proved to be too tempting for me to resist. Suffice it to say, I’ve had ice cream for dinner a LOT lately.

Scotchy Scotch Scotch certainly lives up to its name; while it isn’t high in alcohol content, the ice cream is definitely butterscotch-y. I like butterscotch and it was almost too much for me. That didn’t stop me from eventually polishing off the whole pint, mind you, but I don’t know if I would necessarily seek it out again. I think they needed something else in the ice cream to cut the sweetness of the butterscotch. Butterscotch ice cream with butterscotch swirls is a lot of butterscotch to process. If you aren’t partial to the confectionery, don’t even bother with the ice cream. You won’t like it.

And finally, I acquired a new toy for my desk at work: a LEGO minifig decked out to look like the man himself, Ron Burgundy (complete with a mini bottle of Scotch).

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He’s a welcome addition to the office and makes me smile every time I look at it. I’ve had a ton of people ask me where they can get one; he’s proven to be more popular than my LEGO minifigs of Walter White and Omar Little.

Stay Classy, readers.

Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings by Ron Burgundy was released Tuesday November 19th; you can read an excerpt here. Ben and Jerry’s has created a flavor locator to assist people in finding Scotchy Scotch Scotch. The 70s news anchor minifig was available on ETSY, but appears to be sold out. I am a trend setter.