Publishing and the Empire of Ice Cream

I love ice cream.

Back in the 80’s, there weren’t a lot of ice cream brands in the Philippines. Aside from sorbetes or “dirty ice cream”, the brands that were synonymous with ice cream were Magnolia and Selecta.

If I were to curate a list of the ten best ice cream flavors (and their corresponding brands — Magnolia’s vanilla ice cream might be different from another brand’s) back in the 80’s, it wouldn’t be out of place if most of my favorite ice cream flavors were from either Magnolia or Selecta.

But today? That would be ridiculous. I would be accused of propaganda, a paid article, or simply having very limited tastes.

Yes, judging the best ice cream flavors is very subjective. And I will have my own biases. I’m allergic to chocolate for example, so I am not likely to taste a lot of chocolate ice cream, or include a lot in my top ten list. But can you imagine a top ten list of best ice cream without a single chocolate-derivative flavor (Rocky Road? Belgian Chocolate? Chocolate Velvet?)?

I would be called out for it, and rightly so. I might place a disclaimer mentioning I am allergic to chocolate, thus reflecting my biases, but at no point should I tell my critics I was only judging what the best flavor was, knowing very well a certain field of flavors is unhealthy for me and thus limits my perspective and experience.

As a curator, it would be my responsibility to expand my horizons, and taste as many different ice cream as possible. Now there are two barriers to discovering additional flavors beyond what’s in my comfort zone.

One might be the price. Hey, I made an open call claiming that I’m compiling a list of the best ice cream in the country. Not everyone will hear about it, or those that do might not oblige. Let’s say only Magnolia provides me with free ice cream. Does that mean I should exclude all the other ice cream brands?

I’m under no responsibility to try each and every flavor/brand-combination in existence, but as a curator, it would be in my best interest to try the other ice cream brands and flavors. There’s Fruits in Ice Cream for example and their specialty of fruits (especially local fruits). Near my house is Carousel Creamery, which supposedly has over a hundred ice cream flavors. Carmen’s Best is quite pricey, so I may limit how many flavors I’ll taste, but I will at least give it a chance and try it.

Another barrier might be the distance I need to travel to grab a hold of the other brands. Sebastian’s Ice Cream is a bit out of a detour for me, but it’s certainly reachable if I devote an hour to visit one of their branches. Maybe a certain ice cream brand is outside of my local area and in a different province like Cebu, then yes, it might be reasonable for me not to include it. (Other curators might take the trouble and book a flight to Cebu just to try their ice cream. What’s reasonable to one person might be outside the capability of another.)

When people are telling me to do better as a curator, they’re simply asking me to try out as many flavors as possible (hopefully not on the same day as they can override your senses!) and analyze my biases. Maybe I only loved Magnolia’s vanilla ice cream because it was what I grew up with, never knowing Carmen’s Best’s salted caramel, Fruits in Ice Cream’s bubblegum, Carousel Creamery’s strawberry balsamic, or Sebastian Best’s blueberry cheesecake.

What would I limit myself to the dozen or so flavors I grew up with, when there’s so much more out there? Because I simply want to stick with the flavors I already know or because no one gave it to me for free? That’s lazy curation, and people are justified in calling me out for it.

How can I say Magnolia’s vanilla ice cream is the best ice cream if I haven’t tasted the other brands, the other flavors?

And let’s not even get into the subject of other frozen delights like yogurt, gelato, etc.

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