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Seven Reasons Not to Lick Ice Cream That Isn’t Yours

It’s dangerous and also a bad prank

Young person licking a carton of ice cream
Don’t do it!
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

When a girl from Lufkin, Texas peeled back the protective covering on a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream and licked the top, she probably thought she’d face, at worse, the same repercussions as fellow food-licker Ariana Grande — she’d apologize, pundits would theorize over in just what way Grande hates America for her protest to take the form of pastry defacement, and everything would ultimately be fine.

But things went sideways. A video of the teen, whom police identify as a “juvenile from San Antonio,” went viral last week, and sent Blue Bell and food safety inspectors everywhere into a panic. “We’re appalled that someone would do this,” said Lufkin director of public safety Gerald Williamson. “We take it incredibly seriously and we’re acting on it as the major crime that it is.”

The culprit initially faced a second-degree felony charge of tampering with a consumer product, but now that police have determined she’s a minor, she would be charged within the juvenile justice system. But the viral video has already taken its toll. On Saturday, a 36-year-old Louisiana man was arrested after filming himself licking the top of a Blue Bell carton, and posting it to Facebook.

Apparently the appeal of licking ice cream that one has not yet purchased is self evident (???) so allow us to counter with a few reasons why anyone thinking of replicating this meme might want to cool it.

  1. Brain freeze: It hurts, and it’ll make it harder to run now that every frozen aisle worker in America is on high alert.
  2. It’s a public health issue: This should be obvious, but tampering with food is no joke. You could spread bacteria and disease, and given how many people keep insisting on not getting vaccinated, herd immunity is threadbare as is.
  3. It’s a bad prank: If ice cream didn’t come with a protective plastic film under the lid, then maybe this could have the intended effect (which is, assumably, that someone buys the ice cream without knowing it’s been tampered with, and then eats it. Hilarious). But as soon as you open the lid, it’d be pretty obvious someone had pulled back the film, and the buyer would then either throw it out and have wasted their money, or would bring it back to the store for a refund or exchange. So all you’ve done is slightly disappoint and inconvenience someone.
  4. It’s been done: At this point you’d just be a poser. Come up with your own viral thing to lick!
  5. We live in a prison state: The original licker got off lucky. Had they been charged as an adult, they could be facing a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The man in Louisiana has been charged with unlawful posting of criminal activity for notoriety and publicity, and tampering with property, and is in jail awaiting bond. Our prisons are crowded enough, and yet as a society, we’ve deemed that decades in prison an apt punishment for licking ice cream, instead of something like community service, or having to work in a food packaging factory to learn why these safety protocols are so important. Plus, now there are cops staked out in grocery stores ready to intimidate anyone who wants a summer treat.

Ain't nobody licking our Blue Bell! #BPOA #Bellairepolice #bluebell #brenham #tx #texas #bellaire #HEB #officermuscles

Posted by Bellaire Police Officer's Association on Saturday, July 6, 2019

6. Punch up. Ok, if you’re going to lick ice cream at the grocery store, you might as well be making a political statement while you do it. The Blue Bells and Breyers of the world are the ice creams of the working class. If you wanted to stick it to the man with your saliva, you gotta start targeting the $10 pints. You still shouldn’t do it, but you especially shouldn’t do it without tactics.

7. You might get Rum Raisin. Yuck!

If you really want to lick ice cream, just buy some! It’s still incredibly affordable. Except you might risk that some enterprising young YouTuber licked the pint you just purchased, but that’s the world we live in now.

Police Identify The ‘Blue Bell Licker’ In Viral Video [NPR]
La. man charged after licking Blue Bell ice cream in copycat video; deputies warn others [WAFB]