Trend Alert: Ice is so hot right now


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One of my favorite media tropes is the invention of a thing that kids are doing that parents don't know about. Lately, it's been beezin' which, if you don't know, parents, is when your kids get some Burt's Bees products, smear them on their eyelids and get high. I swear to you this is a thing, because I've done a Google News search for "beezin" and got 3,860 results. It has to be true. IT WAS IN TIME AND THEY USED THE WORD "APPARENTLY" A LOT.

But even better than that are stories about trends that are just emerging. These sorts of things come all the time in press releases from agencies trying to get their clients some face time on your TV or in your magazine. Have you heard about earwax candles? Pinball machine dining tables? Smirnoff Ice? You haven't? Well, they're all things that more and more people enjoy, and we'll send you some samples free of charge.

I always read these things with a little bit of skepticism. Case in point, a Wall Street Journal story which came to me via Twitter today, one that talks about the emerging trend of eatable ice. I ask of you, was this ever an emerging trend? I've been eating ice for years, mostly because I'm obsessive-compulsive about wasting food or drink, even if it means ingesting every last cube in the glass where my water once was. But apparently my tic has morphed into a premium food item, which means people have figured out a way to charge money for something you used to get for free:

Ice isn't just for chilling drinks anymore, or for packing fish and treating sprains. It's a hot snack. Some Sonic Drive-In franchises sell it in cups and in bags to go. Ice-machine makers are competing to make the best chewable ice, with names like Chewblet, Nugget Ice and Pearl Ice. One manufacturer calls the ice-loving South the "Chew Belt."

I think the phrase "isn't just for" appears in the nut graf of every trend story ever. An ant colony isn't just for burning with a magnifying glass anymore, now you can train a team of them to move your furniture around your home! Also, you have to specify that you're talking about ice when referring to the "Chew Belt," otherwise I just think you're referring to dudes with cans of Kodiak. And anyway, isn't chewing ice bad for you?

The American Dental Association says that ice-chewing can damage teeth. "People have the right to do things that may hurt them," says Matt Messina, a dentist in Cleveland and spokesman for the association. "If something breaks, we'll fix it."

Oh hell yeah, capitalism. If this ruins your teeth WE WILL JUST MAKE YOU BETTER TEETH.

But that's beside the point. The point is that some people are compulsive about ice eating and nobody's ever catered to them before. But of course, we need a brave celebrity to help us push boutique ice crushing technology into the mainstream:

A few years ago, the singer Amy Grant wanted to find the perfect Christmas gift for her husband, [Vince] Gill, the country-music star. She had a Scotsman machine costing several thousand dollars installed in their garage in Nashville. "I've chewed ice my whole life," says the 50-year-old Mr. Gill. Growing up in Oklahoma, he says, he judged restaurants by the quality of their ice.

And here's the overarching problem with trend stories: they can run at any time for no reason. In fact, I'd found this story so compelling that I wrote this entire blog without so much as going back to see that it had been published in 2008. It just sounded like it could be happening today. I'm guessing ice is still hot. Right? Nobody has declared it dead, like they have Twitter and Facebook lately.

But back to ice. We have a somewhat new but probably old trend, set by Vince Gill, in which people are demanding better options for ice eating that will damage their teeth, much to the delight/disgust of dentists. Next up, the re-emergence of the boiled hot dog, which isn't just for spreading Burt's Bees products on your eyelids anymore, now it's something you can find at the trendiest restaurants! If you need somebody to appear on your radio show to talk about it, I'm here when you need me.

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The thinly veiled musings of some guy who makes TV news, writes for Charlotte magazine and used to guide whitewater rafts here in town. Hiding behind a guise of wordiness and talkitude, wrapped in seaweed and tendered for your reading pleasure, it's writing contained only by bandwidth and a lack of free time.

About Jeremy Markovich

Jeremy Markovich writes Way Out, the back page column for Charlotte magazine. He is also a producer with NBC Charlotte. Follow him on Google+, and on Twitter at @deftlyinane.

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