French's Mustard Ice Cream - © French'sFrench's Mustard Ice Cream - © 2019 French's

Nutty: Celebrating Two National ‘Days’ With Mustard

I missed two food-oriented ‘National Celebration Days’ earlier this month, and I’m glad I did – for two reasons. I would probably not have celebrated either, for one thing, and I wouldn’t have had much good to say about the foods some big players offered as novelties, either…

Oscar Mayer Ice Cream Sandwich - © 2019 Oscar MayerThe Oscar Mayer Hot Dog Ice Cream Sandwich: Sublime or Ridiculous?

I’ve waited this long to comment, because I didn’t want to g off half-cocked, without giving all involved proper, thorough consideration. But my initial, knee-jerk opinions have not changed. August 2 was National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. I get that. It’s a great fit with mid-summer weather and associated traditions. So why did Oscar Mayer have to get mixed up in it and offer a Hot Dog Ice Cream Sandwich (see photo, above) to ‘celebrate’? And why did French’s Mustard decide to play along with its own Mustard Ice Cream, for the love of all that’s tasty?

Doesn’t even look like a proper Ice Cream Sandwich…

The thing is an odd-looking cobbled-together creation featuring half Mustard Ice Cream and Half ‘Hot Dog’ Ice Cream, the latter described as Hot Dog flavoured, with bits of ‘candied Hot Dog’ stirred in, sandwiched between two rather plain looking Blondie Cookies.

My first thought was, why Plain Mustard Ice Cream? Talk about clashing flavours: Vinegary and Sweet! Okay… I’d might have been tempted to try Honey-Mustard Ice Cream, with an appropriate emphasis on the sweet side. If it featured a nice Dijon, rather than plain old Yellow Mustard, I’d be even more interested. But I just can’t rationalize what Oscar Mayer is presenting. Of the complementary Hot Dog Ice Cream… At least the Hot Dog bits are ‘candied’.

Some among you will point out that ‘hot’ candies have been around for some time, principle among them the Hallowe’en classic, Cinnamon Hearts. Asian sweet-hot Desserts have been around for literally centuries, but are more sweet than hot, and the flavours they blend are at least complementary. But my taste buds cringe at the idea that Plain Yellow Mustard and Sugar could ever coexist in a marriage that was anything but stormy.

What’s worse…

French’s came along the next Day, August 3, with a special Plain Yellow Mustard Ice Cream (see photo, top of page) to celebrate National Mustard Day. Again, I could suggest dozens – hundreds – thousands – of more appropriate, altogether saner ways to celebrate Mustard than to make Ice Cream. The only appealing thing about the French’s offering was the bright, Lemon-Yellow colour. Woe betide the unwary who saw the stuff, assumed it was citrus, and went in for a big inaugural lick unprepared.

Most of my criticisms of Oscar Mayer’s Ice Cream Sandwich Sandwich can be applied to French’s Mustard Ice Cream as well. I won’t repeat them.

But questions remain…

These celebration products had to be in development by both companies for months before their débuts. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Someone, somewhere, must be advising both sides about coming trends or fads.

Were the ideas not run by opinion test panels? The products themselves not run past taste testers? I have a suspicion that the products were simply dreamed up as novel, even nutty ways to shine a brief light on the two brands in question. Did anybody at either of the companies stop to consider whether these stunts might cast their brands in a poor light, rather than a playful, positive one?

We live in an era where marketing people more and more frequently cross the line, from the harmlessly sublime to the desperately ridiculous. Dial it back, folks; try to rekindle your obviously burned out creative fires and keep the situation under control. Clearly, Ice Cream has no place in a Mustard ‘holiday’, and neither Mustard nor Hot Dogs has a place in an Ice Cream celebration…

~ Maggie J.