A recently created Facebook page titled Save Fudgie the Whale makes it sound like Carvel might be thinking of dropping the ice cream cake. The company has sold the thing for four decades, so it's natural that there might be some Fudgie supporters out there willing to rally to its defense.
One of the first posts was written by Scott Thaler: "Who remembers and loves Fudgie the Whale at Carvel???!!! I do. There is a campaign to help save Fudgie the Whale. We need 200 people to like his page by tomorrow. Can you help? Please click here and like Fudgie!"
Forgive the skepticism, but that sounds a bit suspicious, like maybe a corporate-driven
campaign to draw attention to Carvel products on Facebook.
Fudgie? Really? A friend brought a Fudgie the Whale to a birthday party in August. Slices were handed around, and I got about halfway through mine before I set it down on the kitchen
counter. An hour later, the Fudgie slice still sat there, a gelatinous mess
that had barely melted.
So now it became a game. We left the
Fudgie slice sitting there for three hours. Spots where Fudgie had streaked the plate had melted and pooled. But the main chunk of ice cream that remained held its bulbous shape, like some
abomination risen from the sea.
Truth is, ice creams these
days often are loaded with enough chemical stabilizers and emulsifiers to
keep them from melting during an apocalypse. Companies can inject air in as well to keep the ice crystals from melting, with some ice creams as much as half air. There's also an artificially produced enzyme found in an eel-like arctic fish that
has made its way into ice creams, including Breyers. Cold Stone Creamery even claims it
has an ice cream that doesn't melt. You are what you eat, they say,
and it's easy to imagine those refusing-to-melt blobs of rocky road making a permanent home somewhere you don't want it.
back to the Facebook campaign. Skepticism led me first to Ashley Swann,
the public relations manager for Carvel's corporate office in Atlanta.
"We don't have any knowledge of it," Swann said when asked about the page. "We're a pretty small
corporate office, but nobody in my department knows about this." (As
for why Fudgie didn't melt, Swann said Carvel's ice cream does have air injected and includes stabilizers.)
Now I went back to the initial commenter on the Fudgie page, Scott Thaler. Turns out he's an employee for Zimmerman Partners
Advertising firm in Fort Lauderdale. Thaler, the executive vice
president and chief interaction officer, says the Save Fudgie page was all part of a project, not something that Carvel was behind.
A couple of Zimmerman employees were scheduled to give a speech at a conference in Philadelphia and wanted to talk about how social networking can create a buzz for a product. So they created the page and hoped to get 200 "likes" in two days. They had hit 270-plus when they gave the speech Wednesday.
"Everyone in our office really likes ice cream. We all have a fascination with Fudgie the Whale and thought this would be a fun project," Thaler said.
So there you
have it. Save Fudgie the Whale wasn't an inside job. At least not directly. Representatives from Carvel were scheduled to speak at the Philadelphia conference. And if they liked Zimmerman's work, well, perhaps there would be more underground Fudgie support coming their way.
Feel free, then, to click "like" on Fudgie's page -- you'll be helping show how social marketing can sell products, even for an ice cream cake with supernatural powers to remain in solid form.
Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB. Follow Eric Barton on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.