It’s hard to know what makes a person tick, but a lot of psychiatrists place stock in childhood experiences. There’s a reason childhood is referred to as your formative years, and even the slightest thing can theoretically ripple across your psyche and become a full blown complex in adult life.
So it was with me and Mr. Frosty. When I look back, I realise that Mr. Frosty, a children’s toy from the mid 1980s, had a lasting effect. He was, we were promised, “such fun”, and “made drinks for everyone.” There’s a link to the advert HERE, and how could you not be charmed?! Look at that kid in the ad. He has a natty waistcoat and everyone thinks he’s cool! He must be having fun!
I always loved that ad, and always secretly wanted a Mr. Frosty, although I can’t remember if I ever actually asked my parents for one. But the thought lingered in my subconscious, and I suspect my unfulfilled dreams of Frostydom slowly metastasised into a career as a barman.
I’m far too old to write Christmas lists – I instead just send people liquor catalogues and a photo of myself giving a thumbs up – but this year, I finally got a Mr. Frosty. I finally got to meet my hero, and as we all know, that always goes brilliantly well.
It wasn’t until I took Mr. Frosty out of the packaging that I realised I wasn’t entirely sure what it was he actually DID. A quick inspection revealed that Mr. Frosty is basically an ice crusher. No big deal. I’d used one of them plenty of times and didn’t have one for the house. Great. I love ice crushers. I used to have the speed record for crushing a full chamber of ice in a place I used to work. Me and Frosty – we were friends by this point, I decided to omit the “Mr.” – were going to get on just fine.
The rest of the contents of the pack consisted of some fruity ice cube trays, a penguin shaped squeeze bottle to put flavouring in (I had a feeling “flavouring” was going to mean “gin” pretty soon) and some ice lolly moulds. I hate to be churlish, but basically, Mr. Frosty contained nothing that could be used unless you had a spare few hours and a working freezer to hand. And some flavouring you’d bought for yourself. And a supply of glasses. Hmm.
Still, a quick root around in my house revealed a full bottle of cachaca and some limes, so I figured it was time to put Frosty to the test and see if I could get a half decent caipirinhia out of him. Removing his hat-cum-plunger and filling his head with ice*, I turned the handle on his back and was rewarded with a few flakes of snow. Not a hearty scatter of ice chips as I might have hoped, but a sort of light, underwhelming flurry. A further seven hundred rotations produced enough to make a half-hearted snowball, but nothing approaching a decent drink. Also, my arm was knackered and the grinding sounds were loud enough that I couldn’t hear the TV. Or any rioting or explosions that may have been going on behind me, if I’m honest. I’m pretty sure that people using a Mr. Frosty are the perfect murder victims as they’d be comically easy to sneak up on. Whilst using Mr. Frosty I could have been run over by a brass band, or hit by a van full of air raid sirens, or mauled by a lion ridden by Tom Jones. Or all three. I wouldn’t have heard any of it approaching.
I put more ice in Frosty’s head. With a lot of sweating, grinding and cursing (ladies…) I managed to get another cup full of flakes out of him. “Makes drinks for everyone” my arse. Mr. Frosty makes YOU make the drinks and sits there with a smug expression on his face. I finally knew the truth – that Mr. Frosty really is to blame for me being a barman. Had I been given this thing as a kid, I like to think I’d have been savvy enough to work out that making drinks all night is a tiring, thankless pain in the arse and maybe I should become something less stressful and better paid, like a brain surgeon or a bomb technician or a carnie who juggles bear traps on a high wire.
The truth, depressingly, is that Mr. Frosty isn’t much fun at all. He basically requires you to be fully stocked for drinks before you begin, and then his only contribution to things is crushing ice very badly so that it melts on contact with hard liquor. He’s not fit to be in the bar fraternity. He’s the equivalent of that drunk customer who wants to come behind the bar and serve and have their picture taken because it’s all just so hilarious and novel that they’re “behind a bar” and “pretending they can make drinks.”
The upshot of it all is that Mr. Frosty just isn’t that great at his job. If none of this has put you off buying one as a present for someone who works in a bar, or your children, or the children that work in your bar (I’m not judging…) then consider this: Mr. Frosty is twenty three pounds on Amazon. The cheapest ice crusher I could find online was seven quid, and a pack of googly eyes is about 70p.
Maybe I’ll start my own line of bar toys…
*Is it just me that’s giggling at the phrase “cum plunger” ?!