Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now twelve-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at www.steffdeschenes.com. You can also visit her at www.theicecreamtheory.com.
The Ice Cream Theory is a charming, tongue-in-cheek exploration of the parallels between human personalities and ice cream flavors. Utilizing humor and satire, it brings together anecdotes from my own adventures with broader-reaching social commentary to help others recognize the wisdom and joy inherent in a beloved dessert. In the same way people have ice-cream preferences, people also have people preferences. Like ice cream flavors, social preferences shift based on age, experience, even mood. There are exotic flavors that one craves when feeling daring, comforting flavors to fall back on, flavors long-enjoyed that eventually wear out their welcome, and those unique flavors that require an acquired taste. Like people, no ice cream flavor is perfect every single time, and it’s in this realization that the crux of the theory lies.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
I had my first heartbreak when I was sixteen (it was a trite, superficial teenage girl thing, but at the time it felt like the seams of my world were coming undone), and the best remedies to get through it were friends and ice cream!
Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?
I ate a lot of ice cream. And dated a lot of boys. And ate more ice cream after breaking up with said boys!
Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?
That life is beautiful in its imperfection. That if we obsess over the next best thing or over what might happen tomorrow, then we miss out on everything we have right now in this present moment, which is the only thing that’s real. We need to be a culture that slows down, recognizes, and truly feels their way through all the good and bad things that life is made up of. Yes, life could be better (the weather could be better, our health could be better, anything, really, could be better than it is), but it’s more than good enough.
Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?
Sure . . . this is from the first chapter which explains what The Ice Cream Theory is all about:
“There are loads of different flavors of ice cream: Almond, Amaretto, Banana Nut, Black Raspberry, Blueberry, Bubblegum . . .
Just to name a few.
Nobody likes them all. Everyone I’ve ever met has eaten flavors that they couldn’t stand; flavors that they liked when they were younger and hated as adults, or hated when they were younger and loved when they were adults; flavors that they could eat all the time; flavors that they ate all the time and got sick of; flavors that they’ve never tried and haven’t had the opportunity to; flavors they’ve recommended to friends; flavors that are exotic and daring and out of the norm; flavors that are comfortable and common; flavors that they had only once because they could never find it again; flavors that they eat just because it’s there; flavors that remind them of a person, place, or time.
Because of this, to me, people are like ice cream flavors.
We get along with certain people because we have common ground with them, or they bring something new to our lives, or perhaps they balance us out. We don’t get along with certain people because we have no similarities. Or perhaps that one thing you can’t stand about yourself, you see in them.
People like or dislike certain ice cream flavors for one reason or another.
People like or dislike other people for one reason or another, too.
Once when I was at one of those ice cream parlors that make your ice cream treat on marble slabs right in front of you, I had tiramisu ice cream with marshmallows and gummy bears.
Yes, it sounds disgusting. And, yes, it was disgusting.
But here’s the thing: someone, somewhere, adores tiramisu ice cream with marshmallows and gummy bears.
Just not me.
But, see, I had to try it. It seemed interesting; something new that I had never sampled before. I tried it, didn’t like it, and moved on. But I had to know what it was like because, if I didn’t, than I would have never known if I was missing out on something extraordinary.”
Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?
I don’t think that nonfiction is hard to publish; I think it’s the genre within nonfiction that makes it difficult. Personally, I never intended to write a self-help book. I was trying to write, what I tell my friends and family, a “super cool collection of almost true, but slightly inaccurate anecdotes from my life.” But that genre doesn’t exist! (Yet). I got lumped into self-help, which is really unfortunate given that the market is inundated with these types of books. So, for me, I felt really blessed that I had a tremendously unique concept – like comparing people to ice cream flavors – to share with the world.
I think most self-help books force some very opinionated central theme down the reader’s throat, which, in my opinion, makes it counterproductive. The Ice Cream Theory, I think, does an exceptional job at letting the reader interpret, digest, and gleam what they specifically need to from it, which sets it apart from other self-help books on the market.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me includes procrastinating more than I should, people watching, conducting random social experiments, giving my friends and family something to laugh or think about, eating really wonderful food with people that I love, and hopefully being inspired enough by these events to write something clever or two before sleeping like a starfish in my ginormous bed.
Q: What’s next for you?
Besides continuing to work on my “365 Project” where I blog daily about my dining habits, I’ve begun writing my next nonfiction book about my adventures being a beer spokes model.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Steff. We wish you much success!
Cheers! It’s been an amazing ride so far, and I have to admit that I look forward to how my own life’s plot continues to develop!