Ice cream is a frozen dairy confection, usually consumed as a snack or dessert. The earliest precursors of ice cream were around as early as 400 BC in Persia, and frozen desserts were developed in tandem by many different people all over the world. However, the sweet mixture of milk, cream and egg that we are familiar with today didn't become popular and widespread until the 18th century. Early ice cream was usually produced by churning the ingredients with ice in a hand-cranked device (a process arduously duplicated by Telly in Elmo's Magic Cookbook). With the advent of refrigeration, however, and the ice cream parlor, consumers could indulge in frozen sweetness without labor, even going so far as to eat directly out of the carton.
Ice cream is a very popular foodstuff on Sesame Street. Ernie, Prairie Dawn, Count von Count, Mr. Hooper and many others have sold ice cream, and it's hard to find a character on Sesame Street that hasn't eaten or at least mentioned it.
It has even been claimed that "everyone likes ice cream". This theory has not been proven, but such noted figures as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin were devotees of the substances. Some have gone so far as to suggest that ice cream is the world's second greatest gift: after children and before laughter (Kermit the Frog and Walter in The Muppets).
Ice Cream's Temporal Nature
The fleeting nature of life's sweetest pleasures can be amply demonstrated by the tendency of ice cream to melt if not consumed quickly. Like many good things, ice cream can and will desert us, or at least make a mess, if we do not take timely precautions to preserve it.
- Grover's song "Planning Song" ends with two melted ice cream cones, thus demonstrating the single-mindedness needed to take advantage of life's little pleasures.
- Gonzo submitted a recipe for "Barbecued Ice Cream" to the Muppet Picnic Cookbook in 1981. The ice cream melts off the skewers before the meal can be completed.
- A Tyco figure of Telly holds a melting ice cream cone.
- Mr. Johnson orders chocolate ice cream from Waiter Grover in a "Charlie's Restaurant" sketch, but when it actually arrives, he doesn't get to eat it.
- In The Day Snuffy Had the Sniffles, Big Bird intends to take get-well gifts to Snuffy but ends up leaving a path of melted ice cream behind him, a veritable trail of sweet tears.
- Zoe drops her ice cream, and it accidentally lands on Telly's head. He is not as amused as she is. Later in the same episode, one specimen from Telly's triangle collection reminds her of an ice cream cone. Again, Zoe is amused more than Telly.
- The 2000 book Elmo Likes... tells us that "Elmo likes ice cream ... except when it melts."
Ice Cream as Unhealthy Temptation
In 2005, Sesame Street undertook an initiative to promote healthy eating and exercise habits, called Healthy Habits for Life. Sadly, this means that ice cream and its sugary relatives have been relegated to a lesser role in the show, and have occasionally been denigrated directly or by implication.
- "The Ballad of Casey McPhee" is a song about a train engineer, portrayed by Cookie Monster, who must deliver a cargo of cookies, cake and ice cream over a mountain. When the train tracks fall prey to an avalanche, Cookie must resist the temptation to eat his cargo and instead focus on freeing the train. He realizes that civilization is built upon our obligations to others, manages to eat the snow trapping the train, and is proclaimed a hero. Plus, snow serves as a suitable, less caloric substitute for ice cream. (EKA: Episode 0533)
- In a 1990 episode, Elmo waits for Gordon to bring home some ice cream. While he waits, he imagines having ice cream for every meal. In his imagination, he is excited about breakfast and lunch, but not so excited about dinner, and downright nauseous when he gets to dessert. Back in the present, Gordon arrives with the ice cream, and Elmo suddenly doesn't want any.
- In a 2005 episode, Elmo and Zoe happily discuss cookies and ice cream. However, the show then becomes a collection of musical testimonials to fruits and vegetables. After hearing three songs about produce, the pair abandon (at least temporarily) their enthusiasm for sweets, and Alan sells a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- a 2007 episode includes a Game Show entitled Meal Or No Meal, in which ice cream is determined to not be a meal (along with chewing gum, cookies, and a candy bar). The mysterious baker who's been offering cookies comes out and eats the cookies, and a few nonfood items.
- When Cookie Monster said he would eat anything on NPR in 2008, he was offered some sardine ice cream, to which he replied he'd eat almost anything. (See Oscar's ice cream habit, below.)
- The entry for 2 in the Number Song Series includes a boy holding two ice cream cones. (EKA: Episode 0001)
- A cartoon tells the story of a queen who dreams of eating ice cream in a land of steam (the fact that steam would, presumably, melt the dessert is conveniently overlooked). (EKA: Episode 0001)
- "Everyone Likes Ice Cream" is a song about ice cream's power to bring us all together, despite our other differences as individuals, and even placate monsters. (EKA: Episode 0026)
- Ernie's reward for cleaning the apartment in 15 seconds is cookies and ice cream. (EKA: Episode 0033)
- A cartoon kid says "I: Ice Cream" and a speech balloon appears. (EKA: Episode 0033)
- Ernie wants an ice cream cone with scoops of chocolate, strawberry, peach, vanilla, banana, pistachio, peppermint, lemon, orange and butterscotch, but he doesn't quite get it. (EKA: Episode 0193)
- Episode 0265 sees the installation of an ice cream machine on Sesame Street.
- In Episode 0293, Mr. Hooper demonstrates "in" and "out" by making a chocolate milkshake.
- In Episode 0345, Big Bird reads a sign in Hooper's Store that says ICE CREAM SODA.
- In order to Beat the Time, Grover must bring Guy Smiley five things that contain milk. One is a dish of ice cream. (EKA: Episode 0684)
- Ernie builds Bert an ice cream soda. (EKA: Episode 0750)
- To apologize for knocking down Bert's sand castle, Tough Eddie brings him an ice cream cone. (EKA: Episode 0774)
- In Episode 0784, David is accused of shortchanging a customer who bought an ice cream soda.
- Mr. Hooper loses his glasses in Episode 0786; they fall into ice cream, thus demonstrating another hazard posed by the frozen substance.
- The Mad Goat Song sees a pig refusing to share ice cream with a goat. (EKA: Episode 0824)
- Lefty sells Ernie an invisible ice cream cone. (EKA: Episode 0867)
- In Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting, Grover has a job as an ice cream vendor and interrupts Kermit the Frog's news report when he is selling them.
- In Sesame Street Stays Up Late! Carlos, a child in Portugal, makes wishes on 12 grapes for the New Year. His wishes are all sweets, mostly ice cream.
- Episode 3856 tells the story of Wormy Gras, in which worms all over the world dress in costumes. Slimey dresses as the straw in an ice cream soda. Then, we see a cartoon about the invention of the ice cream soda straw, as inspired by anteaters.
- In the street story of Episode 3962, Baby Bear compares Elmo's collage to a purple, furry pile of ice cream.
- Episode 4008 features a cameo from Jerry Nelson as an ice cream vendor.
- "It's a Circle" is a song about circles performed by Ernie and Bert. A bowl of ice cream is shaped like a circle. (First: Episode 4034)
- The street story in Episode 4124 includes a subplot about Elmo's ice cream being locked in Hooper's Store.
- Ernie imagines that Bert might slip on his rollerskate, roll out the door and bring back an ice cream cone.
- A 1994 stage show at Sesame Place, The Perils of Miss Prairie, depicts Prairie Dawn as the proprietor of an ice cream parlor.
- Big Bird loves birdseed milkshakes (a concoction presumably made by blending ice cream, milk, and birdseed). Mr. Hooper made them for him, and that was one of the strongest connections in their relationship. When Mr. Hooper died, one of Big Bird's first thoughts was of birdseed milkshakes. Luckily, he needn't have worried. Susan makes him one in Episode 3976, Alan makes him one the next day in Episode 3977, and even Natalie makes him one in Episode 4060. In Episode 4119, Big Bird wishes the adults were more like kids, and only reverses his wish when the young Alan can't make a birdseed milkshake. In Episode 4140, Alan's newest assistant, Chris, also knows how to make a birdseed milkshake, but he couldn't stop dancing to make it when Zoe inadvertently wishes everyone would wear a tutu and dance ballet.
- Oscar the Grouch has a fondness for even less traditional ice cream dishes. On 1970's single of the Sesame Street Theme Song, a skit on the B-side has Oscar proclaiming enthusiasm for ice cream, as long as it is topped with spinach, chocolate syrup and pickles. During the song Wonderful/Yucchy, Oscar rejects a strawberry ice cream cone because it isn't sprinkled with pickles. Similarly, in Episode 0279, he attempts to grow pickle ice cream cones in a flower pot. In a visit to Bert and Ernie's apartment, he trades two ice cream cones for a bowl of banana, ice and gravy. In Episode 4133, he fixes himself a sundae consisting of chocolate ice cream, fish, sauerkraut, marshmallows and a cherry on top. Oscar also feeds catsup ice cream to his cat, Fido, in Elmo's World: Cats. In a Muppet & Kid Moment, Oscar tells Hunter that his favorite food to eat is ice cream with sardines and some cold gravy on it. This is of course a prime example of Grouch culture, as evidenced by the business run by the Bad Humor Man in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, whose specialty is anchovy swirl with street pavement topping.
- In one sketch, Prairie Dawn invites Grover, Herry, and Cookie Monster over for dinner. They turn the offer down when they learn that Prairie thinks they are cats, but change their mind swhen they hear that she was going to serve cookies and ice cream. (EKA: Episode 0272)
- Bert dresses as an Ice Cream Cone for a pageant in the Sesame Street Storybook, Happy and Sad, Grouchy and Glad.
- Sesame Street includes a grouch-targeted ice cream store, Mold Stone Creamery, which has difficultly keeping Bleu Cheese & Pickle Chip ice cream in stock.
- In a 2010 episode of Sesame Street, Telly and Elmo develop a ploy to retrieve their stolen letter I from Iggy the Dog by using ice cream. The dog instead throws the ice cream cone in the air and grabs their I. The ice cream lands on Telly's head ("Cold. My head is cold.").
- Ice cream is stated to be the second finest gift one can give in The Muppets.
- In his song about "Bones," the Count compares those without bones to "melted ice cream cones."
Non Sesame Street References
- Bob Hope appears as an ice cream vendor in The Muppet Movie, and sells Fozzie a scoop of honey and a scoop of dragonfly ripple. He advises Fozzie not to get the two mixed up.
- Traveling Matt mistakes ice cream cones for moss packs, and puts one on his head, in "We Love You, Wembley". (The French version shows him discovering ice cream itself, and putting some on someone else's head.)
- Doc accuses Sprocket of eating all the ice cream in "Inspector Red".
- Neat Stuff To Know & To Do, a 1988 Play-Along Video, shows a snake charmer using the traditional method to charm a snake, rather than compliments and ice cream.
- In the same video, the Skipping Stones decide to go have some "Rocky Road" ice cream after watching Jim Henson teach P.J. how to skip stones.
- In another Play-Along Video, Hey, You're as Funny as Fozzie Bear, Fozzie takes Luncheon Counter Monster for some ice cream. In this video, Fozzie says his favorite ice cream is Lemon Swirl, while the Luncheon Counter Monster says his favorite is Rocky Road.
- Baby Gonzo makes an ice cream sundae for Nanny to make up for the broken lamp that Baby Fozzie accidentally breaks in "Good Clean Fun". Unfortunately, Baby Animal emerges from inside the sundae and makes a mess.
- Kermit and Robin sneak, ticketless, into Walt Disney World (in 1990's The Muppets at Walt Disney World) to stop Animal from destroying an ice cream cart. Later, Quentin Fitzwaller buys Rizzo an ice cream bar to ensure his cooperation in rounding up the gatecrashers. Finally, Scooter and Bean Bunny eat ice cream cones while watching the Indiana Jones stunt show.
- 1994's Muppet Time segments included the story of an ice cream cone falling to the ground. (The disappointment at this is quickly remedied, as the cone is replaced.)
- Felix Finkledooper got to eat a lot of ice cream for his 8th birthday, including a flavor called Frinkleberry, in "The Cat in the Hat's Big Birthday Surprise".
- One of the shops at the Woodland Valley Mall, as it appears in "A Berry Bear Christmas", is named "Bass 'n Robin Ice Cream Parlor."
- Johnny Fiama first met Sal as he was eating ice cream out of the freezer in Kresge's (as revealed in a Larry King Live appearance).
- Miss Piggy and Taye Diggs enjoy an ice cream sundae in Disneyland in a commercial for the Give a Day. Get a Disney Day. promotion.
- Miss Piggy, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, holds an ice cream cone in lieu of her torch in the coloring book Great Muppets in American History.
- Janice reveals in The Muppets episode "Little Green Lie" that she tries not to eat ice cream because she believes they keep cows in a freezer, and thinks it's mean.
- In 1976, Knickerbocker produced a playset of "Ernie's Ice Cream Truck" with an Ernie rag doll and a small popsicle. (Note: technically, popsicles are not ice cream; they are frozen novelties.)
- The 1978 The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook contains a story entitled "Grover and the Twenty-Six Scoops," in which Herbie and Betty Lou order 26 scoops of ice cream.
- The 1980 book What Did You Bring? shows ice cream as one of 15 separate deliveries to Sesame Street on a given day.
- In 1984's A Baby Sister for Herry, Herry Monster learns that while babies get a lot of attention, they aren't old enough to enjoy ice cream. Here, ice cream is shown in the rare position of being a reward for being more grown up.
- The 1986 album from Sesamstraat, Op Avontuur met Tommie, includes a story entitled "Mogen Wij Een Ijsje?" ("Can We Have Ice Cream, Please?")
- A 1986 PVC figure of Baby Kermit holds an ice cream cone.
- The 1990 video game Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival has a level which takes place in the Amazing Ice Cream Maze. Sadly, none of it is consumable, merely serving as icy obstacles between Fozzie Bear and the exit.
- In 1992, one of the set of Sesame Street trading cards featured ice cream.
- A German PVC figure portrays Grover holding an ice cream cone.
- A collection of figures of Sesame characters doing jobs shows The Count as an ice cream salesman.
- In the 2006 Sesame Street coloring book Outdoors All Day! Cookie Monster is seen in front of an ice cream cart, holding an ice cream cone with four scoops. The next page shows Cookie with an empty cone, and the reader is urged to draw scoops on the cone. The book then asks the question bedeviling ice-cream aficionados everywhere: "How many can you fit?" Much later in the book, Oscar fixes himself a sardine sundae.
Ice Cream Vendors In Real Life
- In 1967 Muppets, Inc. produced two ads for Tastee Freez.
- Ice cream entrepreneurs Ben and Jerry submitted a brownie recipe to In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy.
- Big Bird's 2006 appearance on Deal or No Deal was prompted by the phobia of contestant Lamar Wilson, an ice cream man.
- Rowlf and Rizzo visited Fosters Old Fashioned Freeze in a 2014 Toyota Highlander ad.