Hot Town, Summer in the City

With temperatures in the 90s over the last few days, ice cream has been on my mind and no doubt on the minds of others. I’ve also been thinking about what I would do for a Klondike bar.

The original Klondike bar was created in 1922, on a small dairy farm in Mansfield, OH. There, the Isaly family, immigrants from Switzerland, made the bars by dipping squares of ice cream into pans of their beloved, melted Swiss chocolate. The bar’s genesis came from an attempt to make an ice cream product specifically for adults. They were made only in Islay stores, so their availability and distribution was limited.

For a while, the Isaly Dairy Company produced the bars only in Youngstown and Pittsburgh. By the 1940s, the Isaly family had multiple dairy plants supplying Klondike bars to more than 300 stores.

Until the 1970s, the Klondike Bar was available only in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Later that decade, in 1978, a partnership was struck with Kraft, and distribution was broadened to Florida, followed a few years later by New York and most of the New England states.

It was not until 1982, and the “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” campaign that bars were available nationwide.

One of the earliest spots:

Here a husband agrees to put away dirty dishes:

Unilever bought Klondike in 1993, adding the bars to its ice cream portfolio which includes Breyers, Good Humor, and Ben & Jerry’s. The bar is a top seller, with an estimated 12% of US homes purchasing and consuming the bars every year – more than Popsicle and Drumstick brands.

The company’s famous jingle has become part of the American consciousness in odd ways. In 2009, for example, a Florida man walked out of a convenience store with a crushed Klondike bar in his back pocket. After he was apprehended (no word on the fate of the bar), he offered $69 for the bar, which retailed for $1.29.

There is no shortage of sites selling t-shirts that say, “I’m ashamed of what I would do for a Klondike bar.” Amazon sells vinyl stickers and car license plate frames on the theme as well. There’s even a What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar, a board game.

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