Tastee days

Today’s Zippy:


From the annals of snowclones, commercial icons in contestation, commercial names, and advertising run amok.

Snowclones. In the title: “He put the eff in the tee”. Eff (for Freez) and Tee (for Tastee) were Tastee-Freez’s ad mascots back in the 1950s (more on this below).

Meanwhile, the title is an (erratic) instance of a well-known snowclone, Put the X in Y (put the fun in fundraising, put the ass in fantastic, etc.). Discussion in Language Log by Geoff Pullum on 1/25/04, by Mark Liberman on 3/19/04.

Commercial icons in contestation. The grotesque Tee (never a widespread icon) above sees himself in opposition to (the much more widespread) Bob’s Big Boy (discussion of him on this blog on 10/12/12). Soft serve vs. burgers, with the burgers winning. Tee thinks Big Boy is out to destroy him.

Some backstory. From Wikipedia (warning: the article uses the verb immortalize in a non-standard extended sense):

Tastee-Freez is a soft serve ice cream frozen dessert product served at 350 locations at Wienerschnitzel and Original Hamburger fast food chains and also franchised chain of 50 fast-food restaurants. Its corporate headquarters is based in Newport Beach, California and has stores in 22 of the United States, with most of its freestanding stores located in Virginia, Illinois and Maryland. The first Tastee-Freez was established in … Illinois [in 1950].

… Tastee-Freez was immortalized by John Mellencamp (then performing as “John Cougar”) in his song, Jack & Diane, from the 1982 album American Fool. “Suckin’ on a chili dog outside the Tastee Freez; Diane’s sittin’ on Jacky’s lap, he’s got his hands between her knees.”

Tastee Freez was also immortalized by Cheech And Chong in their skit Waiting for Dave, from their 1971 first self-titled album. Head on straight north to you come to the Tastee Freez; make a right and go 97 miles straight…

S. E. Hinton immortalized Tastee Freez in her classic novel The Outsiders, chapter 7. Ponyboy and Two-Bit stop at one on their way to the hospital to visit Johnny and Dally. “We stopped at the Tastee Freez to buy Cokes and rest up, and the blue Mustang that had been trailing us for eight blocks pulled in.” It is portrayed in scene 20 of the movie The Outsiders directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Tastee-Freezes come in many forms, from basic burger-shack buildings up to what are clearly repurposed Howard Johnson’s restaurants. Somewhere in the middle, this place in Perris CA:


Commercial names: avoiding ice cream. Ordinary people think of soft-serve / soft serve as just a kind of ice cream: soft-serve ice cream, if you need to be specific. The companies that make the stuff are mostly much more cautious about naming their product, because of legal restrictions (in various jurisdictions) as to what can be labeled ice cream (it’s a dairy industry thing): not enough milk-fat (less fat, more air).

So the names of the firms and their products generally avoid ice cream, though dairy is ok, and of course freez(e) and the truncated soft serve. The first two firms: Carvel and Dairy Queen. Then, in no particular order: Dole Soft Serve, Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit, Tastee-Freez, Foster’s Freeze.

It seems that soft-serve ice cream is incredibly popular in Singapore, to the extent that there is actually a posting (of 2/19/15) on The Smart Local, Singapore site with “12 Best Soft Serve Ice Creams in Singapore”. The names:

Sunday Folks, Tsujiri Tea House (green tea soft serve!), Milkcow, IKEA (yes, the Swedish emporium), Mr Bean, McDonald’s (yes, the American fast-food place), Come-in Hokkaido, Oyogei Taiyaki, Godiva (scandalously rich), Saint Marc Cafe, Danmi Soft, Honeycomb

Advertising run amok. On the Roadside America site, on the “Tastee-Freez Twins”:

This mystery started with a photograph that had bumped around in roadsideamerica.com’s “miscellaneous scans” folder since 1996. Mike snapped it on a cross-country trip, but we had trouble placing exactly where.

We called him the Goon in a Top Hat. He was obviously naked, sans genitals, though quite pleased with himself. The gagging tongue and bulbous eyes only added to the disturbing Goon- style hospitality. His hat might be made from an old oil drum, but it was hard to tell.

In 2002, Smiler Dean Jeffrey sent us his own record of the Goon, washed out after six more years of weather and wear… “Looks like it’s about four feet tall and was probably some kind of advertising at some point. It’s at Donnie’s Corvette Specialists on Route 301 in Kenly, NC.”


Dean stumbled onto another goon in Raleigh December 2004: “I was out taking a walk, right in my own neighborhood, when I saw another one of those statues, in a neighbor’s backyard. The nice folks who live there told me they had gotten him at a Tastee-Freez in the ’60s — he rode home in the back seat of their brand new 1965 Mustang convertible.”


“I did a little poking around online and found out that in the ’50s, Tastee-Freez had a couple of mascots called Tee and Eff. They were naked and had globs of ice cream topping on their heads (strawberry for Tee, the female, and chocolate for Eff, the male.) In 1957, they were featured in six issues of a Tastee-Freez comic book, similar to the Big Boy comics put out by Shoney’s. They also appeared in ads and on napkins, cups, and other packaging.

“I think the one down in Kenly is Tee, and the one here in Raleigh is Eff (although he’s obviously been repainted a few times, even having clothes painted on him at some point.).”

Tee and Eff were also marketed as a pair of salt and pepper shakers (both looking chocolatey and female:


Ah, then, the comic books. Here’s one:


Among the other comic books were Caspar the Ghost, Rags Rabbit, Sad Sack, Little Dot, and Mazie, some essentially unknown these days.

[Added the next day, the next Zippy, with more Tastee-Freez elf:


The Goon in the Top Hat, with a political connection.]

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