A picture is worth a thousand words. The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco proves it. With hardly any words to describe ice cream, its history, chemical composition or any other facts one would expect from a building called a museum, this attaction is a genius masterpiece of Instagramable locations. Visitors can take their pictures against backdrops with various props and suck on sugar as they do so. A potent combination it seems because this museum is sold-out most days.
After a long and expensive wait we entered the museum on a Thursday, which was their solo night or the night when the first 350 people are allowed in at no charge. After a two-hour wait, as I moved into the museum, a sense of elation at having made it formed a euphoric cloud around me. Bubblegum pink trees tinseled and sparkled, forming a magical forest. From Nov. 23 to Jan. 6, the museum is transformed into a winter wonderland.
A young Berkeley graduate called Cool Whip invited us, a group of about 10, to give ourselves ice cream names. No one recognized the name I chose, Cassata. Around me my group members called themselves Oreo cookies and strawberry pops. Cassata, an ice cream I had always coveted growing up in India, was too exotic for the 25-to 30-years old around. I felt special.
Cool whip then proceeded to scoop out ice cream to each of us. We slurped our way to the room where we were invited to write messages on lids of ice cream containers and hang them as ornaments on the pink Christmas trees. An inane worthless exercise as by the end of the day all our messages would be trashed and place made for a fresh group of visitors. I read the messages on the lids fluttering from the pink trees. The messages indeed needed to be trashed. Nothing of consequence was written on them. Brains addled with sugar were too busy taking selfies against props.
The pool of sprinkles which holds more than 100 million custom-designed sprinkles was next. We sank our feet into a pool of multicolored rubber vermicelli. I was so relieved to sit down after the long wait that this was definitely my favorite attraction. The soft sprinkles cushioned me. I cracked a smile into my phone.
Room after room covered in multicolored disco wallpaper followed, each with props: a carousel horse, two giant pink cherries, upside down trees, tunnel of lights, mirrored walls, pink wall telephones, white unicorns and more to take pictures with. In every room we were plied with sugar: ice-cream bars, mochi balls, hot chocolate, and candy floss. We emerged into a shop that had more props to take pictures with.
The visit took about an hour and half. We were always with a group leader. Entrance is $38; free for children 2 and younger. Groups of 10 or more can buy tickets at the discounted rate of $29 per ticket. The ticket is only valid on the date of the ticket.
I bid adieu to the sparkling pink forest, with the unicorn, the pink cherries and the disco walls. Will I come back for its new avatar post on Jan. 6? I think not. Even with a free entry, the so-called museum was not for me. However pictures shared on Facebook got a rave reaction. Everyone who saw a picture from the museum wanted to immediately jump into it. Perhaps that explains why what started as an exhibit in Fall 2017 has found a permanent home in San Francisco. It outlasted its sister locations in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. What does that say for San Francisco? That $38 for Instagram-worthy pictures is chump chain for the wealthy denizens of Silicon Valley?
The museum is at 1 Grant Ave., San Francisco. 855-258-0719
Ritu Marwah is an award winning author, chef, debate coach, and mother of two boys. She lives in the Bay Area and has deep experience as a senior executive in Silicon Valley start-ups as well as with large corporations.