Sean Spicer’s Dippin’ Distraction
Full disclosure: I have an unreasonably sour opinion of Dippin’ Dots, The Ice Cream of the Future.
There is no singular topic that stokes my soft, inner glow into a gross inferno like Dippin’ Dots, The Ice Cream of the Future.
It is unclear when I became this person, or why inside me lives this bubbling magma pit of vitriol for a dessert product. There is a distinct possibility that it has always been there, an ember like a seed buried deep in my sinews, waiting until that fateful day at the Kennedy Space Center in 1995 when my pudgy, half-grown heart would be broken. I learned that sweet things can lie.
I hate Dippin’ Dots.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer also hates Dippin’ Dots.
Sean Spicer: purveyor of alternative facts, alternatively called lies. Sean Spicer: one more swamp creature with the tiny orange hand of Saruman stamped on his pasty, crumbling Uruk-Hai face. Sean Spicer: enemy.
My knee-jerk reaction was to retreat within myself, like Luke into solitude, and get my Jedi shit together. I could not, would not align with any part of the administration, no matter how trivial.
But that volcanic pit inside me, that hissing coal demon, vice grips its bony cage. Trivial?
No. This is a new awakening for that ancient beast in my body. I was sent here to tell you what’s going on when a company throws a party for the Trump administration. I am ice cream’s avenging angel, a terrible swift sword that is, in fact, a spoon. This is about bullying, dishonesty, and much more than just the innocent power of tiny ice cream beads.
Sean Spicer and I, Claire Stone (of sound mind and body,) are saying the same thing: Dippin’ Dots is not the ice cream of the future. While this statement is true, Sean Spicer says it for a different reason. Sean Spicer eats Dippin’ Dots and it personally displeases him. He even detailed his preference for vanilla Dippin’ Dots. This is a microdisplay of his greater failing: he contradicts. While he makes bold, polarizing statements, he doesn’t back them up with the integrity of his actions here. It’s almost as if… he’s dishonest.
But I, too, maintain that Dippin’ Dots is not the ice cream of the future; it is impossible to have something of the future in a present tense. It’s a pedantic sort of hate. The branding is dishonest, gimmicky, and preys upon the American glut for New and Now. It has none of the hopeful charm of Tomorrowland, the creative imaginings of The Jetsons or Zenon: Girl of the Twenty-First Century. It hints at a future that has no solid foundation, like an empty campaign promise. The whole illusion crashed down around my tiny ears when I asked whether or not I could actually eat Dippin’ Dots in space and the answer to that was ‘you sure as heck cannot.’ Dippin’ Dots would scatter everywhere in zero gravity and pose a significant danger to equipment and the inner workings of spacecraft, to say nothing of the fact that astronauts eat honest, freeze-dried ice cream. To be fair, “ice cream of the future” is nowhere to be found in their current visual branding; perhaps they dropped the tagline. In large letters they advertise “TASTE THE FUN.” Their mascot is a cartoon yeti. Innocuous, vague. Might as well be “Make Ice Cream Cool Again,” which at least manages a pun.
My misplaced rage lay dormant for years.
Now, the dots reveal their true colors.
Prior to this moment in internet history, Dippin’ Dots remained politically unaffiliated. They have supported whatever cause of the moment keeps their product in the hands of theme-park goers everywhere. An unprecedented opportunity popped up for this purveyor of treats: they are trending for the first time since declaring bankruptcy now that journalists uncovered tweets declaring Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, has been vocal about their product for years. He claims to hate them, but we know he’s just looking for a fight. Dippin’ Dots was, for a brief moment this weekend, the enemy of the enemy. And what do they do with that momentary spotlight?
In an open letter to the Press Secretary, Dippin’ Dots CEO Scott Fischer writes, “we’ve seen your tweets and would like to be friends rather than foes.” Spicer responded that he welcomed their truce
Dippin’ Dots is throwing a President’s Day ice cream social for the White House staff. At Spicer’s request, they will invite military and first responders (which, while very nice, is an intentional deflection and distraction. Spicer loves distraction.) Dippin’ Dots has extended an olive branch. You might say this takes the high ground, doing as Michelle Obama instructed us to do “when they go low.” I don’t think she meant to genuflect at the feet of darkness. I don’t think going high means sinking so low as to placate. Perhaps Dippin’ Dots is a bigger man than I am. (If any part of this administration publicly recognized me as an enemy, the party I’d throw would not be out of reconciliation.) But I can understand why one might support peaceable cooperation; Boeing stock dropped with a single Trump tweet. No business wants to be on this administration’s shit list. That said, I’m having trouble finding any supportive instance of history or fiction where rewarding a villain with delicious treats contributed to the hero’s journey, or the Good Fight.
(Titus Andronicus comes to mind, I suppose, and wouldn’t that be a happy surprise at the ice cream social?)
Likely, this isn’t the first or the last time that fearful propriety will bring innocent company to its knees. Dippin’ Dots has always symbolized dishonesty to me personally but the truth of the matter it that this door could have opened to anyone, and it will always be easier, safer to surrender rather than stand. There will be traps everywhere for the foreseeable future: small, cold, seemingly innocuous and palatable little changes that we can either spit or swallow. Dippin’ Dots has us off to a rocky start in shaking hands with Sean Spicer.
Ice cream included, the future is obscured. Each step forward is an unsteady one, and it feels possible that instead we’ll take many steps back. I never considered Dippin’ Dots an ally. I’m sorry if you did, or continue to. While they pose no direct threat to personal freedoms or the withering environment or bodily autonomy, neither do they support those things. If Dante is to be believed, “the darkest places in hell are reserved” for Dippin’ Dots, and I will sleep easier imagining how it will feel to slowly melt back into dessert obscurity for all the futures of eternity.