The state Department of Natural Resources is capitalizing on Michigan's two loves, symbols (we can handily rattle off the state bird, stone and flower*) and sweet treats, to call attention to state parks.
How? By introducing an official ice cream: "Pure Michigan Caramel Apple." The flavor was dreamed up by Dawn Dummer of Houghton Lake and created by the century-old, Holland-based Hudsonville Creamery and Ice Cream Company to woo Michiganders to state parks. Come May, keep your eyes peeled for the Pure Michigan ice cream truck, which will travel the state distributing free samples of the new ice cream.
It's unclear whether this delicious marketing ploy will lead to state park awareness, but after a bowlful of ice cream, visiting the nearest park for a little exercise might not be a bad idea.
The new flavor was chosen by a panel of experts, Outstanding Outdoor Kids Lexi Loehfelm, 11, of Ada; Noah Ekdom, 12, of Roscommon; and Jimmy McGrath, 15, of Carleton, along with Meijer Corporate Research Chef Ray Sierengowski. It beat out other proposed flavors, such as "Shiver MI Timbers," "Pure Michigan Jubilee" and "Michigan Chocolate Covered Cherries."
Cherry might seem like a shoo-in for the state that's the (self-titled) Cherry Capital of the World, but cherries actually have no official status in Michigan -- at least until legislators pass a bill introduced last year to make the cherry the official state fruit.
While Michigan may be the only state to name an official ice cream flavor, it's certainly not the first to get involved in the politics of frozen treats. In 2008, Missouri made the ice cream cone -- yes, just the cone -- the state dessert. And in 2009, a Rhode Island state representative had to back down from legislation he proposed to declare an official ice cream vendor after the move caused a ruckus.
Do you think the judges made the right choice? Take our poll, below.
*Robin, Petoskey and apple blossom. But bet you didn't know there's a state soil: Kalkaska soil, found in both peninsulas. Stump your friends!