Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Two Most Difficult Tasks on the Planet

People are really doing amazing things in the world every single day. You see the guy at the NBA halftime show that is able to fold himself up in such a way that he is actually able to fit into a tiny, metal box. Unbelievable. You see a story on the Discovery channel about a blind guy scaling Mount Everest. What a feat! You have genius computer geeks coming up with ways for us to have a phone, camera, music player, and Internet connection all in one little hand-held device . It's truly fascinating. The thing is this, however. We can come up with a million landmark achievements that boggle the mind and test our imaginations beyond belief, but there are still two accomplishments that remain elusive, and probably will for a very long time.

The ice cream sandwich. Tough to really sum up its greatness in just one article. It somehow took the lunchtime staple, the sandwich, and transformed itself into a heavenly dessert replete with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate coating. It quickly became an ice cream truck fan favorite, easily trumping the "looks better than it really is" Screwball and the onetime world #2 Toasted Almond bar. You could be 8 years old, you could be 108 years old...if you were an American, chances are you had an ice cream sandwich in your hand every day during the summer. There was just one problem. It became evident very early on in the ice cream sandwich's life that this delight could not be enjoyed without the black "sandwich" material getting all over your hands and fingers. People started coming up with all kinds of different strategies. Eating the sandwich with rubber gloves on...didn't work. It bleeds right through. Eating the ICS with two long sticks, never allowing it to touch hand or flesh at any time...didn't fly. The coating would inevitably work its way onto the ends of the sticks, and then magically rub off on your fingers when you tried to release. Some even tried eating the ice cream sandwich in a bowl, using a spork and knife. Not gonna happen. You still had to transfer the sandwich from box to bowl, and in that time, it would latch on to you like an anaconda. It just can't be done. The ice cream sandwich could still be enjoyed, but the mess the exterior portion of the snack caused cannot be underestimated. It was never a good situation when you'd come back inside the house after wolfing down an ICS and have to explain to your mom why it looked like you just spent the last six hours wiping down fresh tar on I-75.

The other impossible task also relates to an underrated dessert item. The cupcake. I've long been an admirer of Cupcake and all that it brings to the table. Whenever a kid had a birthday in school, you always found yourself hoping that it wouldn't just be the typical "cake and ice cream" routine, or worse, the "hit or miss" homemade brownie situation. (Sidenote: anybody that prefers brownies with nuts can take their American citizenship and throw it right down the garbage disposal. You just don't belong here.) Every once in a while, though, a kid got it just right. Special little cupcakes for all to enjoy, with frosting always leaning over both sides. Sadly though, that's where our problem began. That frosting would just be built too damn high. Whose jaw could possibly fit from top to bottom on this thing? I would understand if we were a class of 4th-grade velociraptors, but we were most definitely not!! You'd never think that frosting could be the cause for any type of unfortunate life situation, but in this case, it was. You see, nobody has ever taken a great bite out of a cupcake without getting frosting all over their nose. It's Cupcake's dirty little secret: "You can eat me, you can enjoy my sweet and sugary taste, but know that when I'm done with you, you're going to look like a Care-Bear that just did a half dozen lines of cocaine." Everyone tries to eat it without running into this problem, but that's always just been a pipe dream. You bring the cupcake up to your mouth ever so slowly, open your jaw just a wee little bit at a time, push the cupcake towards the opening...and BAM! You take that fatal bite, and while you enjoy the little dance moves your taste buds are now doing, you know deep down that you look like a complete mo-ron that is unable to consume his personal dessert without getting half of it on his face.

Like I said, the human race has pretty much perfected any task you could ever dream up. We've traveled to the moon, we've rebuilt actual living dinosaurs (Jurassic Park was actually a documentary), and we've invented a button that enables us to click back to the previous channel so we will never forget what we were just watching. But the great thing about this world is that there are always new challenges to overcome. To many, the Ice Cream Sandwich and the Cupcake are just foods. Simple dessert items. But they represent so much more. They symbolize the fight to always follow your dreams, and to not let past failures keep you from coming back to try and do the job right the next time. We're still waiting on that first blemish-free consumption of an Ice Cream Sandwich...and the Cupcake "frosting on face" issue is still very much a living thing. But it doesn't mean we're giving up. So next time you are offered a little post-meal treat at a party, take a moment to appreciate the history behind the snack. You could just scarf it down without thought, but you wouldn't be remembered. But eat one of these things like nobody has before, and you walk away a hero. My hero.

Drop a line below on the Ice Cream Sandwich-Cupcake dilemma...or drop me a note by e-mail at highsockslegend@gmail.com

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