I sent this on 11/7/1996:
Dear Baskin Robbins,
Dear Baskin Robbins,
I am writing you to correct a family feud that dates back to the very beginning. According to legend, my great grandfather was a successful dairy farmer who lived next door to the Baskin family dairy farm.
On Sundays, the families would walk to church together, and the mothers would pack very large picnic baskets. Little Rebecca would bring her favorite sheep, Libby, along (part of the family). The Baskin boy, Mark, would bring his Shakespeare books along and read under the tree. Rebecca and Mark fancied one another.
As refrigeration developed, the demand for ice cream skyrocketed. Farmers Baskin and Herman decided that in order to meet market demands, they would merge. Farmer Baskin, after counting his 31 sheep one night, came up with the concept of 31 flavors of ice cream.
However, tensions developed--Mark had no aspirations of carrying on the ice cream business. His heart was in the theater, prancing around in tights and raising questions among the rest of the family. This soon made him as welcome to the Herman family as would one with limited vocabulary and spelling skills to the Webster family. Tensions blossomed into full-throttle animosity when Libby hopped the fence into the Baskin Yard, and a frustrated Farmer Baskin shot the animal dead. Rebecca was crushed.
A forgiving Farmer Herman asked for the remains, but Baskin would not budge. Herman suggested a contest where the winner kept the remains. Baskin’s trick knee ruled out a race. Herman’s bad wrist ruled out wrasseling. Herman suggested that the farmers take turns kicking each other until one man was left standing. Baskin said “you first,” and the families looked on as Herman backed up forty paces and ran full speed, kicking Baskin in the groin. After groaning for what seemed like a half-hour, Baskin got up and said “Okay, my turn.” Farmer Herman smiled and said “Nah, you can keep her.”
Farmer Robbins, who lived on the other side, hearing the commotion, came over and helped Farmer Baskin to his bed, where he rested for two days. Soon, the Herman family was replaced, and Mark eventually died alone because Robbins had no daughters. Rebecca, ironically, caught the acting bug and went on to Broadway.
As a peace offering, I present to you a new idea--Ice Cream on the Half Cone. Like its predecessor, “Snails on the Half Shell,” it's a (paper) plate with holes for six “half-cones.” The customer selects six flavors to sample, and each half-cone gets a half scoop. What an idea! What a way to get people to try different flavors! Let me know.
Letting By-Gones be By-Gones,
Baskin Robbin's Reply, dated 11/21/1996:
We were so pleased to hear from you regarding Baskin-Robbins products. Thank you for being a Baskin-Robbins fan.
We’re very glad that you enjoyed our general corporate information.
Like all of our products, it has benefited from our 50 years of expertise. From the very beginning, we’ve used only the finest ingredients (many of them prepared to meet our strict standards) and lots of them. Our flavor library is unparalleled in the industry. Our high-tech production and quality assurance facilities use state-of-the art equipment to ensure that you Baskin-Robbins treat has that traditional old-fashioned quality.
Again, thank you for brightening our day with your expression of
appreciation for Baskin-Robbins. Please accept the enclosed gift certificates as our way of saying “Thanks” to a valued customer.
Response sent to Baskin Robbins, 12/2/1996:
Dear Baskin Robbins,
Thank you for the prompt response and coupon for free ice cream. For me, this sealed a treaty that ended three (3) generations of bad blood--until I read the letter that you attached to the coupon.
My letter outlined the ugly origins of a family feud between neighboring dairy farmers, and the sad results--Baskin Robbins instead of Baskin Herman. As a peace offering I presented a great idea that would launch the Baskin Robbins into the 21st century as the ice cream leader. You responded with a crummy form letter “hoping that I enjoyed the corporate literature,” and thanking me for my interest in Baskin Robbins.
Is it possible that my letter was sent to another caring customer, and vice versa? Lots of soldiers, overseas at war, upset their wives and mistresses in this same fashion.
Now, I feel even more betrayed than I did before I wrote a letter. What kind of attention are you paying to the customer when your letter does not even match up to my letter? Where is the care? I certainly hope that you are paying more attention to your pasteurization process than you are to your customer mail.
I should think that the customer’s input would command your undivided attention, as they put the bread on the table, so-to-speak. Maybe Grandpa was right in cursing Baskin Robbins on his deathbed. He held on an extra day just to avoid having the 31st on his tombstone.
Unfortunately, I think that I will find it difficult to set foot in my local ice cream shop until this matter is addressed, and my idea genuinely acknowledged. Please look again at the great idea, and think about sending more coupons, as this might bring me back to Baskin Robbins consumption. Otherwise, consider me as much of a contributor to your profit margin as a lactose intolerant bus driver in Alaska with sensitive teeth.
Eating Crackers Instead,
Todd's reply, dated 12/24/1996:
Thank you for taking the time to write us here at Baskin-Robbins.
The letters that you wrote were very entertaining and creative. It was one of my first letters to a customer due to my newly appointed
position here at the corporate office, so please excuse the lack of
I’m hoping that all of your concerns can be completely shifted into a positive light regarding Baskin-Robbins and all of our products. We will forward your suggestion for “Ice Cream on the Half Cone” to our
creative Marketing Department.
Thank you again for caring enough to contact us with that fantastic story, and please accept the enclosed gift certificates so you and your family can enjoy a treat on us.
Response sent 4/22/1997:
I am writing for two reasons. First, a while back, you responded to my letters with class and professionalism that underscored the “C” in Consumer Affairs. Incidentally, I think it’s unfortunate that you are so highly in demand. Consumers that have affairs are not only cheating themselves, but their spouses and the loved ones of the partners with whom they are cheating. And it’s always the kids that suffer.
The other reason for my letter is to check up on my idea--“Ice Cream on the Half Cone.” The last ten or twelve times I’ve been to Baskin Robbins, I haven’t seen any signs of it. By getting people to try six (6) half-scoops of six (6) different flavors, you are 1) getting them to eat the equivalent of three (3) scoops of ice cream, and 2) getting them to sample six (6) flavors of ice cream. I am the smartest human being alive!
Anyway, let me know if you need any other ideas, as I have special talents. The problem is, in order to get to that higher level of intelligence (I call it a plateau), I have to eat my ice cream really really fast and get an ice cream headache. Is there any cure for the ice cream headache? You wouldn’t tell me if there was because I’m too valuable of an asset. If I don’t get ice cream headaches, you wouldn’t have “Ice Cream on the Half Cone.”
Lastly, there have been some rumors about Superman, of Marvel Comics, changing his uniform. Does Baskin Robbins plan to change the flavors in Superman Ice Cream? How about selling “Invisible Man” Ice Cream? Just hand people an empty cone. Or better yet, charge them and say “Cone’s invisible too!” It would probably work pretty well with the younger crowd. When they ask “What flavor is it?” you say “any flavor you want, kid.”
Eating Three Scoops Per Minute,
Todd's response sent 5/8/1997:
Thank you very much for your letter and your special ideas. There is a project in the works for a product that would allow you to try different flavors in smaller amounts. The concept is not a new one but I still think that “Ice Cream on the Half Cone” is. And your Invisible Ice Cream is something right out of a comedy skit.
As you can no doubt imagine, we receive a great number of suggestions for flavors here at Baskin-Robbins headquarters. Many of them are very similar and others have already been created and evaluated by our own team of flavor chefs and marketers. Thank you for your interest in
Baskin-Robbins and please slow down on eating that Ice Cream. Those
headaches you receive aren’t necessary in order to send us your latest special ideas.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Please accept the enclosed gift certificate with our compliments.