Handel’s Peach Ice Cream

Our family’s favorite ice cream shop is currently featuring one of their signature seasonal flavors: Handel’s Peach Ice Cream. It’s only on their menu for a couple of weeks each year because they make it from fresh, fully-ripened peaches. So it’s kind of special, even though fruit-flavored ice creams usually aren’t at the top of my list.

It’s also kind of special because of a story we heard a few years ago about Handel’s efforts to fulfill the wishes of a dying man. The story hasn’t been officially fact-checked. But I can say that it came from what I would consider a reliable source with credible access to the information.

A Dying Man’s Request for Handel’s Peach Ice Cream

The story starts with a man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I’d imagine this news this filled him with sadness and regret on many levels, but his one unique point of sadness and regret is that he would make it through another summer — to the time of the year when Handel’s would be serving his favorite flavor of ice cream: Peach.

So the man’s family and friends went to Handel’s and asked if there would be any way for them to get a pint of Handel’s Peach Ice Cream to serve to their dying friend. Perhaps one of the Handel’s locations had some from the previous summer in the back of a freezer somewhere… Perhaps Handel’s could allow the family to commission a special batch using frozen peaches or canned peaches…

Sadly, Handel’s said they would not be able to accommodate these requests because it simply wasn’t the right time of the year for ripe peaches from their preferred peach providers. And anything short of freshly-made ice cream crafted from freshly-plucked peaches just wouldn’t be up to their standards.

I was reminded about the credibility of this part of the story, about a certain ingredient being “not to [Handel’s] standards,” when I saw this sign taped to the window the other night.

In light of the dying man’s situation, however, Handel’s said: “Hold on. We’ll see what we can do.”

So they called around to whatever part of the world where fresh peaches might be available at that moment and ordered a half-bushel of peaches to be delivered to their store. They followed their recipe to mix up 20 gallons of Peach Ice Cream (the minimum quantity they’re equipped to produce). But when the process was finished and they tested the ice cream, the results were disappointing.

The told the dying man’s family: “We’re sorry. It’s just not up to our standards… But hold on. We’ll see what we can do.”

So they called around to an alternate supplier from whatever part of the world where fresh peaches might be available at that moment, and they ordered another half-bushel of peaches to be delivered to their store. They followed their recipe to mix up 20 gallons of Peach Ice Cream. And this time, they were satisfied with the results.

The family was delighted that they could accommodate the dying man’s request, and they asked: “How much do we owe you? It couldn’t have been cheap to arrange for all those special shipments and all those extra gallons of ice cream! But we’re glad to cover the costs. How much was it?”

“It’s our treat,” they said. Handel’s wouldn’t accept payment. And more than just giving the family the pint they’d originally requested, Handel’s gave them all 20 gallons of the freshly-produced Peach Ice Cream. Instead of selling the rest of this very popular flavor to recoup some of their costs, Handel’s provided for a Party of Peach Ice Cream with the dying man’s friends and family.

Handel's Ice Cream

The Moral of the Story

I think the main take-away from this story should be that Handel’s is great.

I heard the story from a friend who works in marketing and public relations in Northeast Ohio — and he thought this story represented a missed opportunity for Handel’s to promote its brand and develop public good-will, if not actual revenue, from a story like this. He said he’d heard of another national brand who received a similar request: a dying man who desperately wished for a bowl of his favorite soup before its usual season for distribution. This company didn’t have to go to nearly the same lengths to accommodate the request — basically just thawing out a batch of soup from the back of a freezer — but they were able to generate a lot of good-will through social media interaction with the story because of the way they publicized things. He said it was a shame that Handel’s didn’t do the same thing, to gain acknowledgement for a much more noble endeavor.

But I actually like it that Handel’s hasn’t tried to put this story out there. It makes me like them more. And it makes me order a cone of Peach Ice Cream every August, even though fruit-flavored ice creams aren’t usually my favorite. I order Handel’s Peach Ice Cream because it’s refreshing. On a lot of different levels.

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