I Went To The Museum Of Ice Cream And All I Got Was A Stomach Ache
Not to mention a 'storage full' notification on my phone.
On a warm, late summer day I gave into the hype and bought a ticket to Instagram hotspot, the Museum of Ice Cream. Actually, a friend bought them through the AMEX pre-sale, saving the rest of us commoners the anxiety of sitting around like vultures, counting down the seconds until we could refresh the page and enter into the queue the day they went on sale to the public. Because, yes, this pop-up museum is so popular that you have to wait in an online queue to even have a prayer of getting tickets before they sell out. And no, they don't sell tickets at the door. It's cutthroat.
Apparently it was all going to be worth it though, because—like everyone else on social media—I'd been exposed to way too many pictures and boomerangs of people wading in the sprinkle pool or taking a ride on a swing surrounded by pink bananas to resist. So, I marked my calendar and waited for the day I too would get to enter into the colorful ice cream haven and emerge with the most Instagram-worthy shots that my phone has ever had the pleasure of taking.
In case you're not familiar with the MOIC, let me fill you in. It's an interactive pop-up "museum" centered around the theme of ice cream, but you won't find antique ice cream machines from a 1950's neighborhood soda shop on display. No, it's not a museum in the way you'd expect, it's more like a museum birthed from a child's wildest dreams and audacious imagination. It's also like a trip to IKEA. You take your time walking through each uniquely decorated room, except instead of strolling by Scandinavian furniture, you're passing through a room filled with life-size gummy bears one moment and then walls covered in candy in the next — oh, and all while sampling ice cream and other sweet treats along the way. Throughout the whole experience you're encouraged to engage with your surroundings and, most importantly, take pictures — then post them to Instagram, of course. (Free marketing! It doesn't get more genius than that.)
By the time I went, I had seen enough of my friends' Instagram Stories from their trips that my right thumb was getting sore from skipping through. Nonetheless, I lined up outside on an unusually warm San Francisco day, ready to go with my phone in hand. At our time slot, we entered in groups and were greeted by employees who seemed more were like camp counselors — they were remarkably nice, patient, and above all, incredibly energetic. I remember thinking that there was no way in hell I would be able to do that job, so kudos to them.
As my friends and I slowly passed through the rooms, eating ice cream, sparkly cotton candy, and Pop Rocks, we documented our every move. No really, I was constantly on my phone, and let me tell you, it's not easy to hold ice cream in one hand while trying to snag that killer boomerang with the other. There was no denying that the decor was incredibly lively and fun. From an all pink ice cream parlor complete with a working jukebox, to a rainbow room with a unicorn and mirror tiled 'stable,' it was certainly impressive.
I felt obligated to take pictures at every step of my ice cream journey. You know how it goes: "Pics or it didn't happen." So, I did indeed take all the pics. I actually took about 30 pics total in my hour-long experience — one every 2 minutes. After all, I had to get my $40-worth. I mean, that's really what the Museum of Ice Cream is all about right? It's one big endless photo opp just calling your Instagram handle name.
By the time I got to the highly anticipated sprinkle pool I felt exhausted. I can probably attribute part of that to the fact that I was dying of thirst after eating all those sweets, but I was also experiencing significant sensory overload. As I looked at the sprinkle pool in a sugar-high daze, it was like the unicorn glasses were being lifted from my eyes. Do I really want to "swim" in a pool of sprinkles that have probably been buried in the far-reaching crevices of peoples' bodies? And let's not even talk about all those sweaty feet.
Alas, I found myself jumping sweaty feet first into the sprinkle pool. Because that's what you do at the Museum of Ice Cream. How could I return to real life and tell people I hadn't experienced one of the most Instagram-able things of all of 2017 when I was right there? Yea, not happening.
The sprinkle pool is the second-to-last stop on the arduous MOIC journey. The last is basically a row of individually decorated cubbies with swings — prime boomerang real estate. The popular yellow cubby with the pink plastic bananas was teeming with people, so I quickly stopped by the other second-rate options before going the gift shop. After anxiously pacing around the gift shop and contemplating throwing my phone into traffic, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the crowd around the banana swing had dissipated. Almost by some gravitational pull, I found myself walking back to the damn swing to get one last boomerang.
Later as I sat at a dimly lit bar with my friends, sipping on my very serious martini, I scrolled through my photos to decide which I would post.
Want to know the best part? I couldn't even bring myself to post a single one.