It comes only once a year – National Ice Cream Day – it is celebrated on Sunday (July 17), and by happy coincidence, this year coincides with the centenary of the iconic frozen treat, the Klondike Bar.
As if anyone needs an excuse to celebrate, too.
For those taking a bleak view of 2022, this might give some perspective on what’s bad and what’s worse. Sure, everyone says there will be a recession in 2022. That’s bad. On some level, even worse is the fact that Klondike Bars were only sold in Pennsylvania and Ohio…until 1978.
That’s cold, even hard to fathom, but so says Unilever, which acquired the maker of these delicious chocolate-covered bars of ice cream in 1993, and put them in the Good Humor-Breyers Collection of frozen foods. Sensing the moment, Unilever said, “This acquisition has put Americans of all ages within reach of the most comprehensive range of cold desserts in candy history.”
If you really want to thank someone, we refer you to the late businessman Henry DeBrunner Clark Jr., whose company Clabir made real money on defense contracts. He bought the rights to the Klondike Bar in 1976, adding them to his food holdings – and possibly for military applications – and reportedly brought candy sales from $800,000 a year at the time of Clabir’s acquisition to more than $60 million when he sold it in 1989.
In the most recent sales figures we can find, IRI data from 2019 said US sales topped $309 million that year. This was also the year that actress Anna Faris was the face of the Klondike campaign that dared to legally change their names to get a lifelong treatment.
Facing the question herself, there isn’t much Farris won’t do with the K-Bar. Watch it here.
Back to Clark, who signed an unequal contract when he sold, but it covers only the US. This takes us down the rabbit hole of his later exploits in the UK and Europe, where we resort to licking against arch rival Häagen-Dazs. But this is a great story for another National Ice Cream Day.
This one’s for a 100-year-old Klondike bar, which was not accidentally conceived of as a treat for kids. Inventor and dairy owner Henry Essali believed sticks were meant for children. Delish reports that “Isali thought frozen dessert with a wooden handle = kiddie.” “He was aiming for a more mature audience, so he removed it and packaged the bars in a luxurious silver wrap.”
And don’t forget the polar bear. We don’t know the importance, but it’s the brilliance of the brand.
Meanwhile, in the Klondike division of Unilever, they won’t leave this centenary without all manner of dairy. For starters, “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro was commissioned to make the towering Klondike Cake Bar. The sweepstakes winner will get some food (all if it’s fast).
According to the Klondike Bar website, “To enter for a chance to win, post a photo or video on Instagram of yourself completing one of our timestamped challenges with #4aKlondike100Sweepstakes and a klondikebar tag. Bonus: One lucky winner also has a chance to win a Klondike Card that comes with coupons and a check for rewards. Free Klondike for a hundred years!”
It typically retails for $3.99 and assuming there’s been one Klondike pub a day for a century, we’re talking about $150,000 in a Klondike Credit Card at current valuations. Exporters, watch your backs.
In “But Wait, There’s More” fashion, on July 17, look for pop-ups at Klondike Bar in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, Navy Pier in Chicago, and along Santa Monica’s Corniche.
The painted ice cream block that put Pittsburgh on the map has more in store, with a series of fun challenges from “remixing a WWYD song in a barbershop quartet style” to “making a bow tie out of Klondike chips” all linked to the Klondike Instagram page. We challenge you.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on the legendary song and the tagline, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” I got famous in this 1986 TV commercial. I would have been amazed.
In 2009, a man tried to push two K-bars into his shorts and walked out without pushing. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, in the ensuing standoff in the parking lot, he offered to pay $69 for the goodies to be set free, but they handed it over anyway. Talk about tepid.
Another man went, and filled half a duffel bag with stolen Klondikes. Apparently a well-known serial thief in the area, he was facing seven years in prison at the time Lancaster Online reported the incident. In great detail, the story goes: “The assistant director approached him. She felt the bag, and it felt as cold as ice. She could tell the ice cream was there.”
It looks like an episode of “NCIS: Ice Cream Truck,” but apparently some people might call the police for a Klondike pub (two packs of them in this case). The takeaway: Don’t steal the ice cream—especially this weekend. Have some respect for a commercial centenarian.