By John Saulnier, FFB Editorial Director
Never let a crisis go to waste, especially if it will generate free publicity. And if in the process one can help warm up a frosty relationship between the Office of the President of the United States and the news media, all the better.
Perhaps this was the thinking of Dippin’ Dots CEO Scott Fischer, who has floated the idea of having an ice cream social event in an open letter to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
“We understand that ice cream is a serious matter. And running out of your favorite flavor can feel like a national emergency! We’ve seen your tweets and would like to be friends rather than foes. After all, we believe in connecting the dots,” wrote Fischer.
He was harking back to several perhaps tongue-in-cheek shots taken at Dippin’ Dots by Spicer via his Twitter account in recent years, long before getting hired as a spokesman for the Trump administration. The last blast, made in 2015 when the tweeter was then communications director of the Republican National Committee, stated: “If Dippin’ Dots was truly the ice cream of the future they would not have run out of vanilla.”
It has been speculated by a few bloodhounds in the investigative press pen (or doghouse, depending on the reader’s point of view) that Spicer was attending a Washington Nationals game when that particular tweet was posted. Apparently not in the mood for peanuts and Cracker Jack, the hungry baseball fan was seriously craving his favorite flavor of frozen confectionery – the real magilla: vanilla – only to be disappointed that it was not available.
His reference to “ice cream of the future” alluded to a marketing slogan formerly used by the Paducah, Kentucky-based company, which churns out approximately 1.5 million gallons of Dippin’ Dots per annum, as well as 4.5 million pre-packaged servings of numerous flavors.
CEO Fischer wants to make up for Spicer’s past disappointment by treating the Press Secretary, other White House personnel and the press corps to a traditional ice cream social. Such a potentially bonding event would be as American as, well, apple pie ice cream.
Indeed, the first ice cream party in the White House is said to have been hosted by the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, more than two centuries ago. First Lady Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison, the fourth American president, is credited with making the sweet treat a frequently served dessert at the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue residence. For better or worse, she did not succeed in popularizing her favorite flavor, oyster ice cream.
So, asks Fischer in his open letter to Spicer: “What do you say? We’ll make sure there’s plenty of all your favorite flavors.”
He goes on to point out that Dippin’ Dots are “made in Kentucky by hundreds of hard working Americans in the heartland of our great country.”
The CEO adds, “As a company, we’re doing great. We’ve enjoyed double-digit growth in sales for the past three years. That means we’re creating jobs and opportunities. We hear that's on your agenda too.”
About Dippin' Dots
The Dippin’ Dots story began in 1988 in New Grand Chain, Illinois, when microbiologist Curt Jones created the novelty by cryogenically flash-freezing ice cream mix in liquid nitrogen at the extremely low temperature of -320°F. The result was tiny, uniformly shaped beads of ice cream.
A year later a dealer network was established, and in the early ’90s the product had become a big seller in theme parks, amusement centers and other large venues, starting with Opryland USA in Nashville, Tennessee, and later “launching” at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In 1995 Dippin’ Dots debuted in Japan, and five years later a successful franchise system was in place across the United States.
A manufacturing plant was opened by a licensee in South Korea during 2003 to serve markets in Asia. Steady growth continued for most of the next eight years, though there were bumps in the road that led to the filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection papers in November of 2011. Six months later the company was purchased by Fischer Enterprises, a family-owned business that injected capital and renewed vitality into the operation.
Today Dippin’ Dots can be found in hundreds of shopping centers and retail outlets in North America and beyond, and in over 1,000 theme parks, sports stadia and arenas, movie theaters and other entertainment places. They won’t typically be stocked in supermarkets, however, since -40°F storage is required to assure quality and keep Dots from sticking together. Most freezer cabinets in grocery stores are maintained at 0°F.
Dozens of flavors are offered, ranging from Banana Split and Caramel Brownie Sundae to Liberty Ice, Raspberry Sherbet and single-serving packs of Chocolate & Vanilla YoDots. Distribution has increased through a variety of channels, including expanded e-commerce platforms, home delivery services, and a new co-branded mall model shop with a sister franchise, Doc Popcorn.
Should the White House have an appetite for Scott Fischer’s ice cream social proposal, it’s a sure bet that the red, white and blue Dippin’ Dots USA Cup would be enjoyed by many at the party. If the producer wants an idea for a new product to mark the occasion, then what could be nicer to serve Sean Spicer, given his flavor preference, than a Vanilla Icer? Just saying’…