Remember ice cream? Oh man, ice cream. There are so many wonderful things to remember about ice cream, but first and foremost—more than the carnival of flavors and colors; the various zany, luxurious toppings and swirls; the fun presentations (Sundae! Banana split! Ice cream cone! Ice cream cake! Root beer float!); the twinkle-eyed fun of a mild, mostly harmless transgression against dietary discipline, the balm to a searing summer's afternoon—is the bitter grief and weeping.
"Why, ancestors?" we cried out, our numbing hands waving melting fistfuls of mint chocolate chip in anguished accusation at the sacred burial grounds of the ancients—"Why? Why chain such delectable flavors to the twin horrors of refreshing coolness and rich creaminess? You bastards!" And then we threw the ice cream to the ground in a rage, maybe—probably—licking our fingers. Yes. That is what we remember most about ice cream. The awful purgatorial horror of it.
The ancestors dwell in the cold ground; they left us ice cream, damnably frosty, eternally melting, to remind us of the inevitability of death, of finality, of our transience. Your mortal designs are as nothing to the ever-onrushing flame-painted Peterbilt® big-rig of mortality, fools!, ice cream says to us, and we, dutiful, honoring the ancients, choke it down and are humbled. Yes. We too shall die, and go into the cold ground, our futile ambitions melting to sweet, sweet ice-cream soup, and we welcome death, for we are but animate dirt with almond pralines sometimes in it.
But! Totally no more! The mad-eyed, wild-haired prophets at Nabisco have liberated us. They have unlocked the secrets of ice-cream flavorings and freed them from their cold, creamy prison. The flavorings dwell now among the cookies! No more must we suffer the torment of invigorating coldness, the misery of creamy smoothness, just to sate our lust for, say, artificially sassafras-flavored confections. We are fr—
Wait just a goddamn second.
The thing about Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations is that they are dumb and needless. Well, OK, that is the first thing about them. The thing about them that occurs to you even before you eat them. There are other things about Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations, too. Not-so-bad things, and also bad things, and maybe some things that would be good in some alternative realities—but the first thing, definitely, is that they are very dumb, and very needless.
Which, I mean, they are dessert, which is itself mostly dumb and needless. You picture some probably fur-clad bozo of ye olden thymes—Tog, He Who Makes Fire Upon The Animals—conjuring up the very concept of dessert—"I'll whip some fat with a bunch of sugar!"—as a way of getting all the other guys to quit eating all the goddamn elk, so that he could have some for himself before they decapitated him for some stupid reason or another. Dessert is a silly indulgence, quite by design. The dumb needlessness of Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations is the dumb needlessness of all desserts, multiplied by itself, and maybe that silliness is OK, or anyway since it involves multiplication you're sure as shit not gonna spend much time dwelling on it.
Still, there's something pure and straightforward about ice cream that gets lost when it is turned into a flavoring—artificial or not—for something else. Ice cream, for the most part, tastes like what it is—frozen cream with other stuff (cocoa, or vanilla, or mint, or whatever) in it, flavoring it. Even when it's not that—when the flavors are flagrantly artificial, say—you can console yourself with the notion that this makes it Bad Ice Cream For Cheap Losers Such As Yourself, but that ice cream itself, in the abstract, is still essentially a thing unto itself, not a mimicry of some other thing, nor a subset of the attributes of some other thing grafted crudely onto a new thing, like Frankenstein's monster in confection form.
In the case of the ice-cream-flavored cookie, by contrast, you are keenly aware, as you eat it, that you are eating one thing (a cookie) that has been engineered to taste like some whole other thing (a root beer float), presumably because you wanted the taste of that whole other thing (the root beer float), which kind of unavoidably causes you to wonder why after all you didn't just get that whole other thing (the root beer float), I mean it is not as though there is some kind of global root beer shortage after all, which leads quite naturally to a contemplation of the possibility that you have become so numbed to the simple pleasures of life (like, oh, just to grab a random example, here, maybe some kind of suspension of ice cream in a sassafras-flavored carbonated beverage) that, like an addict seeking fresh veins to poison and destroy in the name of a fix, you have pursued your faltering, nigh-burned-out capacity for enjoying sheer dumb novelty around a blind corner and into a dark place, return from which may be impossible. Which, speaking very broadly, is (broadly) not what we (broadly) expect from our after-dinner sweets.
This raises the question, then: If Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations, the dessert-flavored desserts, are not intended to precipitate a long bout of painful self-examination, why do they exist? The answer, of course, is, "Capitalism!": The desperate, sweatstained, insolvency-haunted worker bees at Mondelēz International must create new product lines to satisfy investor demand for growth, and nowhere in this relentless, merciless mandate is there the least requirement that these new product lines be sensible, or responsive to consumer demand, or capable of withstanding even a moment's consideration before collapsing into white dwarfs of blatant ridiculousness, and so someone just kinda chucked this shit out there ("We all love ice cream that tastes like chocolate chip cookies—now, what if we had cookies that tasted like ice cream?") and someone else said, "I mean, whatever, people rot away in lines waiting for donuts that taste like croissants, so probably chaos reigns anyway," and they ran with it.
In short, Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations exist for the sole reason that they did not previously exist. They will cease to exist once they have existed enough for everybody to be familiar with their existence—to be replaced with, what, friggin' cookies that taste like famous regional varieties of hot dog or some shit, ostensibly for people who are sick and goddamn tired of their backyard cookouts not giving them diabetes, but really just for the sake of there being another new thing to advertise.
Of course, the facilitator of all of this is the certainty that we out there in the world, bored and overstimulated, will rouse ourselves from the fugue-state of awards-show live-tweeting long enough to go, "Huh, ice-cream flavored cookies, how 'bout that," and then buy some (maybe ironically or maybe not, I mean Americans spending money on dumb shit is not very ironic, or anyway our motives all pretty much count the same to Mondelēz International) so that we can see for ourselves and tweet about whether they taste like ice cream. So... do they taste like ice cream? And, does tasting like ice cream make them good cookies? Let's see.
The Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Creations cookie tastes like mint, and like chocolate. This does not result in it tasting particularly like mint chocolate chip ice cream, as opposed to, say, like an Andes mint or a chewy Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie. In fact, the whole branded association with mint chocolate chip ice cream does the Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Creations cookie no favors at all: What you cannot help but dwell on, eating one, is the difference between the inoffensively minty, chocolatey cookie in your mouth and actual mint chocolate chip ice cream, greatest of all the ice creams—the creamy texture, the satisfying crunch of dark chocolate chips, how mint chocolate chip ice cream always seems ten refreshing degrees cooler than other flavors of ice cream. It's the Uncanny Valley of cookies. It tastes pleasant and you hate it and feel sorry for it and dunk it in milk and continue eating, and the whole experience is very confusing.
I mean, it tastes like caramel. And, unlike the other Ice Cream Creations, it's crunchy. That's something!
This seems like kind of a cheat. After all, "mocha chunk" is not exactly an iconic ice cream flavor. What, was Neapolitan too difficult to pull off? Did the butter pecan cookie cause spontaneous combustion in test subjects? Did the very idea of a chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-ice-cream-flavored cookie cause the universe to collapse upon itself and unfurl again in a neighboring dimension in which "mocha chunk" is a particularly notable flavor of ice cream?
I do not think we will receive answers to these pressing questions. Anyway the "mocha chunk" cookie tastes convincingly like coffee, which, of course it does, because you can make anything taste convincingly like coffee by adding powdered coffee to it, which is all that has been done here. It does not taste more like coffee ice cream than a regular mass-produced chewy cookie would if you dunked it in a lukewarm cup of coffee. Frankly I am beginning to wonder if there might not be something more to ice cream, some ineffable quality, some magical ingredient, that is at least as important to ice cream's ice-creaminess as whether it contains, say, mint flavoring or powdered coffee. If only the name offered some clues! Alas.
It's not a terrible cookie. If you work at it, you can convince yourself that it tastes like dark chocolate, which is a better thing for a cookie to taste like than a cup of coffee.
Again with the cheating. "Root beer float" is not a kind of ice cream. A root beer float is a glass of root beer with some ice cream in it. A root beer float is itself an "ice cream creation," making this cookie an ice-cream-creation creation. The Chewy Chips Ahoy! Root Beer Float Ice Cream Creations cookie contains like 5,400% of your recommended daily allowance of meta weirdness. May cause vertigo, shortness of breath, and a glimpse of the dark, endless, barren hall of mirrors at the core of human intellect.
Also, by the way, in case you were ever wondering why your local supermarket isn't crumbling under the burden of five trillion boxes of different kinds of sassafras-flavored cookies? It's because sassafras-flavored cookies are fucking disgusting. Which is surprising, in the sense that root beer itself is very tasty—but also somehow not surprising, in the sense that you reflexively recoil at the very notion of a cookie that tastes like root beer, as though informed on a genetic level that this was a dumbass idea. Seriously, these are gross and bad. Don't eat them.
Listen. The root beer-flavored abomination aside, these are not-terrible cookies, as the kinds of cookies you buy in a bag at the grocery store go. They don't much evoke ice cream, but, truthfully, they're not bad-tasting. But, they're badly conceived, a branding gimmick crudely Elmer's glued to just enough of a product to get it off of shelves and into the grocery carts of the bored and impulsive. You don't actually want a cookie that tastes like ice cream. You want something sweet to eat, and something to talk about. So, eat some real by-God ice cream while you talk about how dumb these stupid things are. After all, now that you know they exist, now that we all know they exist, they can be released back into nonexistence, and the sad sacks at Mondelēz International can move on to their next new line of arbitrary product contrivances. Triscuits that taste like pies! Cadbury Craft Beer Eggs! Oreoids, the sandwich cookies that make your head grow! Chips Alloy!—the cookies that taste like real, authentic sheet metal! Who knows. Who cares. Even if they eventually hit on something not-ridiculous, it will be entirely by accident.
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Albert Burneko is an eating enthusiast and father of two. Peevishly correct his foolishness on Twitter @albertburneko, or send him your creepy longform hate-missives at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find lots more Foodspin at foodspin.deadspin.com.
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