Old timey outhouse connected to state of the art communications towerI bought a container of ice cream, recently. In its upper corner was a big sign boasting of “2 extra scoops, over 15% more ice cream than 1.5 quarts.”

I know I’m in the ranks of Senior Citizens, but does anyone still alive remember when a half-gallon box of ice cream actually contained two quarts of the frozen treat?

In 2007, I wrote a tradition among through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. When they arrived at the half-way point on their trek along the 2,100-mile Georgia-to-Maine trail, many of them paused to attempt the Half-Gallon Challenge. The challenge was to see how quickly they could consume a half-gallon of ice cream.

Why anyone would want such a title is unclear, though anyone who has been to a county fair knows there is no shortage of people eager to proved they can eat more apple pies, hot dogs or ice cream faster than anyone else. And so it was that in 2007 I learned of the prowess exhibited by a hiker called “Just Glen.”

“Just Glen” – through hikers often are known by a “trail name, which may or may not be related to their real name – had established his fame by consuming a half gallon of ice cream in two minutes 17 seconds.

I don’t know when “Just Glen” established the record, and I’ve not been to the store recently to see whether he has been bested, but I am certain of one thing: anyone intent on fairly beating him will need to consume more than the contents of a single box.

“Rhymin’ Worm” lamented that fact in about 2003.

Where are the snows of yesteryear?
(Or at least the frozen custard?)
The brainfreeze headache rite of passage
No longer cuts the mustard.

Farewell to Pine Grove Furnace’s
Sport to end all sports.
They only sell half gallons now
as one point seven five quarts.

My dad was known for his ability to consume a half-gallon of ice cream – coffee flavor, I think I recall. He left this plane in 1971, and I’m reasonably certain Mom would be happier, were he still here, to know his nightly ice cream consumption had decreased even more.

What looks like a half-gallon container now holds only 1.5 quarts, prompting the maker of the aforementioned container of the frozen dairy product to brag about “2 extra scoops.”

I’m regularly impressed by the phrasing merchants to make us believe we’re buying something we’re not.

Last year, Hershey launched a new candy bar named “Air Delight.” “Your taste buds have never experienced chocolate bubbles like these … ,” the company’s website proclaims. Chocolate bubbles?

In other words, part of what we are invited to buy is – air!

I live in a tourist town, so I expect to pay, for instance, tourist prices for gasoline. Thus it was no surprise, a few weeks ago, that I could buy gasoline in the surrounding towns for $3.19, but $3.37 nearer my home.

Then one day the local price came down, to about $3.34, as I recall. The station posted signs along the roadway: “Wow! Gas on Sale.”


But my current favorite piece of marketing disinformation remains “2 extra scoops” of ice cream, in a plastic container that clearly has sufficient space for even more scoops. Heck, the container might even hold a whole half-gallon if it were filled with ice cream instead of the thick blanket of air immediately beneath the cover.