Sweet Observations. Part 2: Sampling 101

Believe it or not, a certain etiquette is required when sampling ice cream. Often people will ask, “Don’t you get tired of giving out samples? Do you wish people just had their minds made up?” And while I can’t speak for my coworkers, I can honestly say that it doesn’t bother me. Sure, sometimes it can get a little monotonous, but it’s part of the job, and if I went to an ice cream shop with upwards of 40 options, it would be nice to sample a few things before committing. So don’t worry about tasting a few things, I won’t hold it against you. That is, I won’t hold it against you UNLESS you’re one of the following people:

If you are the person who greets your server with “I’ll try one of everything,” I have some bad news for you: You’re not the first person to come up with this joke. You’re not even the second one to think of it. In fact the only reason I’m laughing along with you is to cover up the sarcastic remark I want to make. I’ve heard that joke at least 5 times today and I got here an hour ago. If I’m not rolling around on the ground laughing, praising you for your wit, please don’t act surprised. You may be reading this and thinking “Oh no… that’s my joke…” and I want you to know that I won’t hold it against you as long as you make the mental note to never say it again.

To the person who actually does try one of everything: Why? To the person who commits to trying one of everything and then as they go along says, “Ew I don’t like coconut,” or “I can’t stand peanut butter”: you did this to yourself. Like maybe don’t commit to trying every flavor if you’re picky? Also, maybe trying every flavor at a small place that only serves five flavors is okay, I’ve never actually been to a place like that so I’m not sure they exist, but the place I work at has over 40 flavors. Please don’t make me go down the list. And to those who try them all and then look really thoughtfully at the menu before saying, “I think I’ll go with the vanilla”: …I can’t even start with you.

You would be surprised by the number of people who stand at the counter watching as you give what are clearly samples to others, but who then look at you and ask “do you give out samples?” More often than not, they push aside the bowl of used taster spoons as they are doing so. The following are responses I would like to make to those who ask if we do tastes as they are surrounded by other people tasting:

  1. Actually we stop tastings at 3:47 and it’s 3:48 sooo… this is awkward.
  2. They can, you can’t.
  3. Only the vanilla.
  4. Is today Tuesday?
  5. No.

Important note on group sampling: When sampling in a group, don’t be that guy who decides he wants to taste the same sample you just brought back for someone else. If someone in your group says, “May I try the raspberry?” don’t hesitate to say, “Oh may I try that too?” before I’ve walked away. Why would you wait until I get back before casually asking, “Oh can I try that too?” Did you think I couldn’t hold more than one tiny spoon in my hand? I’m all about getting my steps in, but come on now.

If you have four flavors you want to try, it’s okay to tell me all four of them at once. “Alright I have a few things I want to try: Strawberry.” Are you planning on keeping the other three a secret? Do I have to guess the others? I’m pretty sure you only listed one flavor there. I can remember more than one thing at a time, and it saves me the walk, so feel free to list away. But then please don’t act overly impressed when I remembered them all. I’m not an idiot.

If there is anything I’ve come to appreciate more after working in an ice cream shop for a year, it’s directness. Although let me emphasize a polite directness. My biggest pet peeve when it comes to sampling is people who dance around the question, as if asking to taste it might be the most offensive thing in the world. Common phrases include, “The chocolate, what’s that like?” “Can I see the chocolate?” “Does the chocolate taste really chocolaty?” Leaving me to answer their questions and then follow up with, “…would you like a taste of it?” Then they look at me as if that’s just the dandiest suggestion in the entire world. If you want something, please just ask politely.

So that’s pretty much all there is to it. If you can be courteous, direct, observant, and avoid the dad jokes, you’re golden will be welcomed back with open arms. If you don’t think you can play by these rules, maybe just stick to Dairy Queen.