Extinction: that’s the way the cookie crumbles

by Emily Kemme

I’ve been contemplating the benefits of the ice ball a lot lately. Previously, I gave little thought to an ice cube’s shape. Oddly, many restaurants serve beverages with square cubes sliced nearly in half. Half moons are what tumble out of my ice maker at home. Even so, I still refer to them as “cubes.”

But the archaic method of nestling my Old Fashioned glass up against the curved ice maker bar and giving it a gentle push may soon follow the path of the Dodo bird. The Dodo has been an extinct species since 1681.

That’s because ice has been made anew. That erstwhile musical tinkle of frozen water has been replaced with one gargantuan block — or in some instances, a round ball — of ice. Ice no longer cascades into your glass of bourbon. It’s more of a plop, particularly if you’re not careful and don’t ease the block into the glass.

In spite of impending extinction of the old format, I stubbornly continue to typecast ice as a cube. But the cubes are huge. These new ice behemoths bump against the walls of your Old Fashioned glass. And thanks to their circumference, there is only the slightest slippage within the confines of the glass. This is pretty fabulous in and of itself. With cubes so large, there’s less chance the liquid can glide past it and then dribble on your shirt.

Necessity isn’t always the mother of invention

In exchange for this convenience, bourbon imbibers must pay more attention to getting their new ice, be it round, square, or even taking the shape of the Star Wars Death Star, into their cocktail glass. Thus, the dexterity necessary for preventing a wet shirt has shifted to a different sort of manual effort.

In the old days, only frozen half moons tumbled out of my refrigerator’s ice maker. Now, I can choose between a Death Star ice ball or one made of chocolate. Available on Amazon.

It’s been over 30 years since I’ve had to pry ice from a tray. This new-fangled ice is formed in a flexible rubber mold. It requires that the thirsty, quick-to-become irritated drinker coax a two inch slippery ball out of it. The benefit is you get an ice ball which looks like the Death Star, clearly an enhancement of the near-defunct square.

Given the ice ball’s improvement on the functionality of drinking a cocktail, it’s a task I guess I can live with. And whether shaped like a ball or a Rubik’s cube, the physics at work inherently improves the drinking experience.

That’s the cool thing about modern life.

We have these whipper-snapper innovators who fabricate a new method to, say, drink your Old Fashioned, or jot down a to-do list. At first, it’s discombobulating. The old method of sipping an Old Fashioned was just fine, barring the occasional wet shirt. And I never really cared all that much about what my ice cubes looked like, as long as they weren’t all frozen into a blob — although, perhaps, that was precisely what those Dodo birds looked like. It’s hard to know, now that they’re extinct.

Another example of improvements to modern life is list jotting. It used to be a piece of cake to grab a used envelope, search the kitchen for the pen that you know you had only recently put down on the table, and make notes.

That was initially my reaction to cookies and how they crumbled.

Computers have cookies, and the best part of them is that they don’t leave a mess in the bed.

Cookies are file segments stored on your computer, tracking bread crumbs of information while you surf the internet. They leave behind bites of information not all that distinguishable from the bread crumbs scattered by Gretel to help her and her brother Hansel make it home safely from their trek into the woods.

That concept used to bother me. Every site I visited for research on a story or to compare fashion accessories before making a purchase was being jotted down by something on an invisible used envelope. Each way I turned, be it the internet, on Facebook, my Instagram feed, or Twitter, my shopping list or research topics managed to magically appear. There was always a reminder of the things I needed to do, buy, or think about.

Sometimes, things are too good to be true

Thanks to its isolation, the Dodo Bird became flightless, losing the use of its wings. But with European discovery of its pristine island en route to trade destinations, its inability to fly ultimately led to extinction.

Although discombobulating at first, I now see that the crumbled cookies from my internet wanderings are a way to show me a more efficient method of list jotting.

It’s actually quite ingenious.

That Dodo bird really had it made. It lived on Mauritius, an isolated island where food was plentiful, magically dropping from the sky. After a while, the Dodo lost the use of its wings; it no longer needed to know how to fly.

But humans are different. We are good at inventing things to make our lives easier, to make dribbling on shirts a thing of the past. And we won’t have to rack our brains to find the pen to make a list on a wrinkled envelope to order the things we wanted to buy. The things will magically drop from the sky for us.

We will no longer need to search, we will only need to see.

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Sooz May 4, 2019 - 10:17 pm

So what kind of ice cubes DO you have?…doesn’t matter with a martini shaker…
by the way let me kniw of a good one;
V martini’s aren’t the same when not cold:)

Emily Kemme May 5, 2019 - 8:12 am

Ha! So true that a martini isn’t a martini unless served cold. I prefer a metal shaker (agree here with James Bond — not stirred). As for ice “cubes,” I’ve got ’em all — big cubes, round ball, moon-shaped not-a-cube. I wonder about the differences. . .

AK May 4, 2019 - 8:51 am

Fun piece!


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