“It started in 2010, when Spicer — still a year out from taking up his previous post as communications director for the RNC — tweeted out ‘Dippin dots is NOT the ice cream of the future,’ a blatantly incendiary claim that flew in the face of the company’s long-cherished slogan,” A.V. Club reporter William Hughes wrote for the site Sunday.
“It’s not clear what provoked Spicer’s attack — a bad trip to the zoo, maybe, or possibly Six Flags — but it was still sticking in his craw a year later, when he doubled down on the bold claim,” Hughes added.
In 2011, Spicer tweeted a Wall Street Journal article — without comment — about the ice cream company’s bankruptcy filing. Four years later, the future White House press secretary was back at it again, apparently upset that Nationals Park had run out of vanilla-flavored Dippin’ Dots.
The Internet, predictably, seized upon the re-upped tweets, many responding to Spicer with references to his news conference.
“Plain vanilla dippin’ dots are the best flavor,” Philip Pinette tweeted. “Period.”
“No one had numbers on the vanilla, because the @Nationals, which controls the Dippin Dots, does not put any out,” Jamie Forrest added.
It was perhaps the most bizarre footnote in an already surreal first half-week of President Trump’s new administration.
Things only became zanier when Dippin’ Dots, which previously had not appeared to respond to any of Spicer’s tweets over the course of five years, at last published an open letter to Spicer on Monday afternoon addressing his apparent dislike of the dessert.
“We understand that ice cream is a serious matter. And running out of your favorite flavor can feel like a national emergency!” read the letter, signed by Dippin’ Dots chief executive Scott Fischer. “We’ve seen your tweets and would like to be friends rather than foes. After all, we believe in connecting the dots.”
The Kentucky-based company noted that it employed “hundreds of hard-working Americans in the heartland of our great country,” and that it had seen double-digit sales growth over the past three years.
It ended with an offer to treat the White House and the press corps to an ice cream social.
A quick call to Dippin’ Dots headquarters in Paducah, Ky., proved that the sudden attention had surprised people there as much as anyone.
“We keep a pretty close eye on folks who are talking about Dippin’ Dots [on social media], and we began to notice those old tweets surfacing,” said Billie Stuber, a senior marketing manager for the company. “My first thought was, well, this is interesting. That’s seven years old. And then it really just began to grow.”
Stuber, who has worked at Dippin’ Dots for 20 years, said she doesn’t remember replying to Spicer’s tweets, even though the company tries to respond to most people on its social media channels. Part of that may have been because Spicer’s tweets referred to the company’s old motto, which it has been trying to shed.
“ ‘Ice Cream of the Future’ was our original tag line,” Stuber said. “It served us well, [but] we’ve actually transitioned to ‘Taste the Fun.’ . . . We don’t respond to all of those [that reference the old motto] just because it’s kind of like, yeah, everyone says that and we’re not really using that anyway. Now is the future.”
Stuber said most feedback she gets is positive because Dippin’ Dots is “an experiential product” often consumed at “fun” places, such as sporting venues, malls and amusement parks.
“Almost everyone remembers the first time they had Dippin’ Dots,” she said. “You know, they’re with their family, they’re with their friends.”
Occasionally, though, Stuber heard from people who “don’t understand” the product. The company almost always tries to keep responses lighthearted.
“We’re very focused on fun,” she said. “Like we said, we’re all about making friends. We don’t want beef with anybody.”
Shama Hyder, a marketing specialist working with Dippin’ Dots, said the company hoped Spicer would take the letter in good spirits — and give the product another try.
“Ice cream should probably be the last thing that’s ever really political,” Hyder said. “This isn’t meant to be like a retort. It’s really meant to be an olive branch, an extended hand of friendship.”
Stuber, earlier, expressed a similar sentiment.
“If anything should make someone happy, it should be ice cream, especially Dippin’ Dots,” she said.
Stuber paused ever so slightly, then laughed.
“How did it ever get to this point anyway?”