Updated: Nov 3
Apples are nothing like ice cream cones.
I know that might be stating the obvious, but allow me to explain. Several years ago, I tried to convince my kids that an apple sitting on an empty waffle cone was a new, awesome, healthy ice-cream-styled desert. They knew better. But now that I think about it, I wasn’t far off. If you replace the cone with a stick you have the beginnings of a caramel apple, right? To create a caramel apple, a classic fall dessert, you just skewer a nutritious apple with a stick and apply copious amounts of caramel, sugar, and dark chocolate. Now, what if you replace the stick with an edible waffle cone? There is no stick to throw away and you prolong your “desserting” experience past the apple. (Yeah, I just made up the word “desserting.” It had to be done.)
But, for the purposes of this comparison, I am talking about a different kind of apple. You can’t take a bite out of this Apple. Instead, this Apple takes a bite out of your wallet. Whenever Apple, the large, ubiquitous technology company unveils a new high-tech product you can almost hear the lines beginning to form. In the weeks leading up to each new release, the faithful prepare to pounce on the latest upgrades like children running to their parents for spare change when they hear the sound of an ice cream truck coming down the street on a hot summer day. Which brings me to ice cream…
One warm evening after dinner, several friends and I stopped for dessert at a local ice cream shop. Everyone purchased a scoop of frozen goodness in a cup. To be clear, and for the purposes of this story, we ordered actual ice cream which requires the use of an ice cream scoop. Frozen yogurt, or “froyo,” is really just an ice cream knock-off. If your frozen dessert is dispensed from what looks like a beer tap, then you are not enjoying ice cream. You are settling for a healthy imposter. Real, hardworking, American ice cream requires enough forearm strength to free your dessert from the frozen tundra of dark chocolate perfection.
To be completely transparent, most of my rules regarding food are based upon the type of utensil used to consume it. For example, breakfast, lunch, dinner and brinner* should be eaten with a fork and knife only. If you are using a spoon for any of these meals, you have done something very wrong. Now, you might be thinking, “What about soup?” In the immortal words of Cobra Kai, “Soup does not exist in this dojo.” Spoons have one purpose. They are used to help scrape the corners of the ice cream carton and capture the goodness that the scooper misses. For actually eating ice cream, I highly recommend cone over a spoon. Which brings me back to my story…
We all ordered a single scoop of real ice cream. However, I was the only one to order my scoop in a cone. This caused someone to remark, “A cone? Seriously? Haven’t you grown-up?” At first, trying to justify ordering a cone as an adult, I thought, “Cones are more environmentally friendly than a plastic cup. I was thinking of the planet when I ordered my ice cream!” But that was not true, not really. Actually, I like my ice cream in a cone because it’s just more fun. And, I have a time-tested system to elevate the entire experience. Again, allow me to explain. If you carefully push the ice cream scoop firmly down into the cone, without breaking it, you get an even distribution of ice cream to cone in every bite. It takes some time and patience, but it can be done. I came up with that system when I was about eight. So, maybe they were right. I haven’t grown up. At least not all the way. Which brings me back to Apples…
Apple’s approach to generating excitement for their new products is to hide their secret treasures, unveil them in bite size pieces, and wait for us to respond. Before a big release, technical blogs are saturated with the latest theories and educated guesses of what Apple has in store. I have even seen some speculation based on leaked photos from factories overseas. Apple has perfected the lure of the ice cream truck’s siren song, but for adults.
When we were kids, we knew exactly what the ice cream truck was offering: Push Pops, snow cones, Rocket Pops, Drumsticks, and ice cream sandwiches. But with Apple, we wait for the unknown with hope. We wait with hope that whatever they unveil will somehow make our downtime more fun, our relationships more connected, and our days more efficient. We are convinced that if we stand in line and purchase their products, the mystery that they have hidden will make our lives better. Genius.
Over a decade has passed since the first-generation iPhone was released on June 27, 2007. Whether or not you believe that Apple products have delivered or lived up to the hype, there is an underlying truth found in the long lines, buzzing blogs and eager expectations.
People all over the world are looking for hope of a better, more connected life. They hope for something that can make their situation a bit easier. They hope for something that can bring focus, meaning and purpose. They stand in lines not because they appreciate the latest technological innovations, but for the hope that they believe it can bring.
Ice cream cones make no such promises. There is no mystery or hidden agenda concealed at the bottom of the cone. The treasure that I find in an ice cream cone is a reminder of the simplicity and hope that children understand. Watch a child playing in a grassy field, or beside the cool waters of a local creek. Close your eyes and remember your favorite childhood games. What did hope look like when you were a child? Have your hopes changed since you enjoyed an ice cream cone sitting on the porch on a warm summer day?
Over two millennia ago, Jesus told the crowd surrounding Him, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16–17, NRSV)
Children know where to find the greatest treasures in this world, and beyond it. They understand that hope is not based on products, but the people you can trust. The parents who, with a smile, have a few dollars ready when they hear the ice cream truck ringing in the distance. The teachers who work tirelessly to help them grow and learn. The police officers, soldiers, and first responders who silently stand ready to protect them. The leaders who selflessly serve others to preserve freedom and provide space for them to chase their dreams. And most of all, God, who has provided us true hope for a better life; hope not parceled out bit by bit, but fully present for us to discover.
* If you are not familiar with the brinner, imagine having bacon, eggs, bacon, waffles, bacon, pancakes and bacon for dinner. And, bacon ice cream for dessert.