I have a friend named Teresa, whom I think may have been born in the wrong century. She has sewn clothes for her entire family, cross-stitches and creates in pysanky, sits in her beautiful backyard garden for entertainment. She not only bakes her own bread, she grinds the grain too. She took up the cello in her forties, because she had always been drawn to the sound of the rosined bow. She is one of my favorite people.
So this is a little story about Teresa.
In the year 1980, she was sitting with her roommate and the subject of eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough came up. (I can only assume this is a subject single women sit around and talk about.) In the course of the conversation, she remarked that it would be great if they made ice cream that tasted like that. Excited by the idea, and with pen in hand, she wrote a formal letter to Baskin Robbins suggesting that they insert small nougats of chocolate chip cookie dough into vanilla ice cream. About a month later, she received a nice letter on Baskin Robbins letterhead thanking her for her suggestion, and stating that they “would pass it on to their flavor chefs.” She also received two coupons for free double scoop cones, for which she and her roommate were thrilled. “Free ice cream just for sending a letter, whoo hoo!” It was a number of years later that she first noticed that her ice cream flavor first appeared publicly.
Yes, she invented chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Now I’m not claiming that others did not also invent this as well. What I am saying is that she invented it independent of anyone else, sent her submission into Baskin Robbins in 1980, and was formally acknowledged for her submission. And the rest is history.
One of the ways we are made in the image of God is that we have the capacity for creativity. Theologically speaking, creativity is a subset of free will, that component of humanity that allows us to choose—Coke or Pepsi, boxers or briefs, good or evil. And it is a necessary aspect of our ability to fulfill the cultural mandate, to multiply and subdue the earth.
There’s a little lesson to be learned here, I think. Nothing philosophically deep or theologically profound. But it is worth noting nonetheless.
• One, you never know when creativity will strike you. It could be in the garden, in the kitchen, in your artist workshop or recording studio, or just sitting in front of the TV eating raw cookie dough. And we must be attentive to these creative leanings, but also understand when the ideas we come up with are worthy of ignoring. (Like the guy who invented lox-flavored ice cream.)
• Two, you need to act on that creativity. Teresa could have talked her idea away, but she took a pen (which is mightier than the sword, we are told), and acted on her idea in a creative way. I can imagine her having to go through the hassle of looking up the address to the Baskin Robbins headquarters, addressing an envelope and licking a stamp (this was pre-internet, remember), and writing an actual letter. But she did it.
• Three, you never know when your little idea is going to change the world in some small way. Yes, it was just a flavor of ice cream. But it is my favorite flavor of ice cream—and I am not understating the fact that it sure changed my world.
Hey, I just thought of a new flavor of ice cream. Chocolate-dipped Nutter Butter Cookie. Hmmm. So where is that address for Baskin Robbins again?
[Note: I encourage you to check out Teresa’s website, entitled “Eggs by Teresa,” and especially check out the galleries of her amazing pysanky art.]