Good Humor Man.

Source: Twitter

Let’s get the obvious part out of the way first: that isn’t good advertising or bad advertising. It’s absolutely brilliant advertising from Punch & Judy’s Ice Cream Parlor, a chain that was found around the western United States in the 1940s and ’50s.. A friend sent me that because he knew I’d find it funny, but the surprise for both of us—the metaphorical cherry on top—was that it brought back my early love of Daniel Pinkwater’s books and gave me some insight into his inspiration for a funny detail in his book The Magic Moscow.

I first learned about Pinkwater from the show Cover To Cover in which host John Robbins would talk about a book and also draw scenes from it. I loved that show and tried to find and read every book that was featured. And Robbins raved about Daniel Pinkwater when he talked about Lizard Music. So of course I got it from the library and tried to read it, but didn’t make it past the first couple of chapters. I still wanted to like Pinkwater so I tried The Hoboken Chicken Emergency next and didn’t make it past a few pages. I was baffled by how weird they were even though I was pretty weird myself. Up until then almost every book I’d been given to read had some message, or, if it was meant to be funny, it spelled out that it was a funny book. Pinkwater’s humor is best described as deadpan surrealism.

Then I got The Magic Moscow for Christmas and, after stopping and starting over half a dozen times, I finally got through it and had a breakthrough. I reread it then went back and tore through Lizard Music and The Hoboken Chicken Emergency and Fat Men From Space and every other Pinkwater book I could find.

The Magic Moscow is about a guy named Steve who takes over an ice cream parlor and adds health food to the menu, which he then brings together in one dish:

The Moron’s Delight is one of Steve’s specialties. It has six flavors of ice cream – two scoops of each – a banana, a carrot, three kinds of syrup, whole roasted peanuts, a slice of Swiss cheese, a radish, yogurt, wheat germ, and a kosher pickle. It is served in a shoebox lined with plastic wrap. Steve considers it a health-food dessert.

I stumbled over that at first. Why was it a “moron’s delight”? And Steve, who’s a bit weird, really considers it a special treat, even serving one to his hero, a retired TV detective, and making another for the detective’s dog, an Alaskan Malamute. But then, as with all things Pinkwater, I finally realized it was just funny and to go with it, never knowing, never needing to know, really, that there was a real world inspiration.

And there was a valuable lesson in all those Pinkwater books I read: be yourself even if–no, especially if–you’re weird.

Anyway it’s a Fourth of July weekend and I think I’ll celebrate with some ice cream. Maybe I’ll make a Moron’s Delight.

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12 Comments

  1. markbialczak

    Thanks for the reminder about life, Chris. Throw it all in there and see what happens! Happy holiday weekend to you and your family.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I hope you had a great Fourth too, Mark!

      Reply
  2. Rivergirl

    I’m unfamiliar with Pinkwater but intrigued by the Hoboken chicken.
    😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The Hoboken chicken was very intriguing because it turned out to be an unusually large chicken which then turned into a beloved pet. You might be just as intrigued by Larry the polar bear too.

      Reply
  3. BarbaraM

    OK, starting to wonder what’s happening. This is now 3 days in a row I can’t ‘like’ your page. Do you know why?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I have no idea. I’m not very tech-savvy but I’ll try and figure it out. I’m getting other “likes”.

      Reply
  4. mydangblog

    I’ve never heard of Pinkwater but he sounds absolutely fascinating, unlike that ice cream concoction. I don’t like ice cream at the best of times, which makes me a different kind of moron, I think!🤣🤣

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Pinkwater really is a fascinating guy. There are messages in some of his books–perhaps his most famous, Lizard Music, warns against conformity, but in his characteristically weird way–but they’re subtle, and mostly he just likes to tell silly stories which makes him stand out from a lot of what I was given by grownups to read.

      Reply
  5. ANN J KOPLOW

    How about some delightful Macaroni & Cheese ice cream, Chris? Happy 3rd, 4th, et cetera to you and many more.
    ANN J KOPLOW recently posted…Day 3561: Overused wordsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      While I have my doubts about how delightful Macaroni & Cheese ice cream really would be I’d still try it.

      Reply
  6. M.L. James

    Would like my Moron’s Delight to include hot dog, cheddar cheese, a smidge of mustard, potato salad, mint chocolate chip ice cream, bananas, hot fudge, caramel sauce, pecans and oh…maybe ranch style beans! Happy 4th of July, Chris! Mona
    M.L. James recently posted…Head ScratcherMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Wow, Mona, it sounds like you might have read Daniel Pinkwater’s Fat Men From Space about aliens who descend on Earth and eat up all our junk food, leaving us only with healthy stuff.
      I’ll take mine the same way, but hold everything except the mint chocolate chip ice cream.

      Reply

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