It might not achieve the mythical proportions as, say, the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe, or the cronut, but Carl’s Jr.’s new Strawberry Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich still managed to incite its own wave of breathless adulation since its launch earlier this week.
According to a company press release, the limited-time dessert even got a mention by Jimmy Kimmel in his nightly monologue, when he asked, “Is Carl’s Jr. reading my dream journal?”
This spin on the classic ice cream sandwich is exactly what it says it is—a hunk of premium vanilla ice cream stuffed in between one halved Kellogg’s Strawberry Pop-Tart. Simple, yes, but exactly the kind of melty, sugary mouthful you’d create for yourself during a 3 a.m. munchies binge—or so I’ve heard.
Is it healthy? Ha-ha—you new around here? No, it’s processed, and it’s dessert. But at 325 calories, 100 of which are fat calories, you could still do worse. A lot worse, as a matter of fact.
Summertime is always a highly competitive season for fast-food chains, which typically target vacationing families and stoned teenagers with gut-busting innovations like Popeye’s Chicken Waffle Tenders—which are chicken strips fried in waffle batter—and Dunkin’ Donuts’ Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich.
But even among those, the ice cream sandwich has planted itself as a front-runner, stealing away much of the mid-summer press attention.
As Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, owner of the Carl’s Jr. chain, astutely put it, “Anything that gets attention can take business away from the other guy.”
He knows what he’s talking about. Originally released in a few Orange County, CA, stores back in April, the ice cream sandwich followed the exact script used by chains looking to stir up free social media publicity.
Laid out brilliantly by Jason Best, the script goes like this: There’s a limited release of the special food at select locations; photos of it then appear on the social media feeds of “fans”; those go viral; there’s (hopefully) a backlash referencing the unhealthy qualities of said food; that’s met by an even larger wave of online support; and finally, a national release date where the company spokesperson says that the public simply demanded the product be made widely available, so they had no choice.
As Pudzer said, “We didn’t even plan on doing it this year. We had no choice.”
So it’s our fault this is happening? According to Carl’s Jr., yes—we have no one to blame but ourselves.