I knew something odd had happened when more than a few friends asked me if I had consulted with Penn Jillette on his new ice cream flavor. I know a bit about ice cream, and I’ve known Penn for decades, but this particular intersection on the Venn diagram was completely unexpected. When I realized that it had something to do with All Star Celebrity Apprentice it began to make sense.
I have never watched the show. I refused to legitimize Donald Trump’s birther/racist/lunatic ravings by watching him pontificate about being the consummate businessman, where “consummate” means “so heavily leveraged that they keep giving me money so I don’t collapse.” Penn, on the other hand, had the best of motives for appearing on the show: He was raising money for his favorite charity, Opportunity Village, and also drumming up more ticket sales for Penn & Teller at the Rio casino.
So what does ice cream have to do with “venal people clawing at stupid, soulless shit in front of the modern-day Scrooge McDuck”? The final two contestants, Penn and country singer Trace Adkins (I had to look that up), had to create and market an original ice cream flavor for the Walgreens Good & Delish product line. Whoever sold the most ice cream would win the challenge. That was something I could get behind – buying ice cream to support a charity and help a friend win.
She Who Must Be Obeyed and I located the nearest Walgreens (there are only two in our city) and proceeded to buy out their entire stock of Penn’s flavor. In order to make a fair comparison, we also bought a pint of Adkins’ flavor. Penn created Magic Swirtle, a sweet cream base with a salted chocolate swirl and miniature caramel-filled chocolate turtles. (“Swirtle” – swirl + turtle – was coined by teammate LaToya Jackson, making her one lasting contribution to American culture.)
It’s a nicely balanced scoop with no one flavor overpowering another. The label says the base is vanilla, but it’s faint enough that it tastes more like a sweet cream. There are plenty of turtle bits included, and you can see the detail on the shell and feet. I’m not at all concerned that we have eight more pints of the stuff; it’s been very popular at Chez Belm.
I wish I could say the same about Adkins’ Maple Macadamia Mashup, maple ice cream with dry roasted macadamia nuts. (The name was suggested by Gary Busey, the living reminder of the need for helmet laws.)
The ice cream doesn’t just look monochromatic, it tastes that way as well. While I give Adkins credit for using real maple syrup, it has a burnt aftertaste. Dry roasting the macadamias gives them more bite, but they still lack the snap of walnuts that are traditionally paired with maple. Consumers, at least here in New England, agree: There are still pints of this left in the Walgreens freezers.
Did Penn win? No, he did not. He had to sit across from and act respectful to a man with hair described as looking “like cotton candy made of piss.” Trump tipped his hand when he mentioned that Penn had said “some bad things” about him (some quoted above), which revealed him to be as petty and vindictive as expected. Opportunity Village received the most money, but Adkins got the win. Penn emerged with his dignity intact and a bump in ticket sales. We all got to eat some decent ice cream. So who’s the real winner?
Trying to explain to Donal Trump that beauty and art can be more important than money is like trying to explain to Donal Trump that beauty and art can be more important than money.
– Penn Jilette, Every Day is an Atheist Holiday