Ice Cream for Lunch: A Consideration

by Ryan O’Hanlon

I used to live in Santa Fe, but I no longer do. I still wonder if I should’ve eaten more ice cream for lunch, though.

We think so much about lunch that it can become a problem. Well, maybe the problem’s not so universal, but I think it is for a relatively-young person, making not-tons-of money, and living on his or her own. What do you eat? How much do you spend? How much time do you spend making it the night before or the morning of? Is the time spent making lunch more valuable than the money spent and time saved by getting take-out? Can you even compare money to time? Have you seen In Time? When you really get down to it, what even is currency?

If you think about lunch long enough, you will wander into the woods and never come back. You will eat tree bark and pine needles forever and everything will be great, and you will never think about lunch ever again because “meals” don’t exist in the wilderness.

But back to society. I used to work at Outside magazine. Our office was in this place called The Railyard. Lunch options were slim in the area, and sandwiches outside of New York are terrible. (You know this.) Plus, they’re overpriced. A sandwich and chips at my local bodega in Brooklyn — miss you, bodegas — was five dollars. A half-sandwich of non-Boar’s Head meat and no chips is more-than-five dollars in Santa Fe. A burrito isn’t too cheap, either (quick note: real burritos are smothered in red, green, or Christmas chiles). It is also a very questionable decision to eat burritos every day. All of which is to say: I considered eating ice cream for lunch.


I never did, but the thought of “ice cream for lunch” was always very real during my eight months in Santa Fe. To clarify: I am 25 years old.

The coffee shop by our office had Taos Cow Natural Ice Cream, AND YOU COULD GET A CONE FOR TWO DOLLARS. Like, the cone was big enough to fill you up — but I guess ice cream always does that because it’s basically frozen-and-sugared fat. But still. This stuff was “fresh, rBGH-free, all-natural super premium ice cream” — and IT WAS, to repeat, TWO DOLLARS. So, my thinking was: Lunch doesn’t really matter. It’s not like anyone ever says “Lunch is the most important meal of the day.” And you’ve never heard the phrase: “a well-balanced lunch,” have you? No one cares about lunch — it’s just a connector between breakfast and dinner. So, you do it cheaply and sufficiently enough to last you until dinner. And if you can do it by eating ice cream, you’re sort of awesome?

I never could do it, though. Living in a new state. On my own. With new people. Insurance that wasn’t my parents’. A car. “Eating ice cream for lunch” was a bridge too far that certainly led out of the land of “being an adult.” Plus, ice cream — even sans rBGH and all-natural ice cream — is generally not very good for you, and I pictured my bloodstream filling up with this flavored milky substance, and I like my blood the way it currently is. Any form of physical activity is rather difficult on a stomach full of Cookies and Crème, too. The offsetting money-saved would possibly/eventually be over-taken by medical bills later in life, I figured. As in: like a year later.

So, if Seriously Thinking About Lunch is a balancing act that’ll drive you crazy and drive you to consider ice cream for lunch, the Scales of Lunch crash, for me, right before handing over two dollars for a one-course lunch made of ice cream. But just barely.

Oh, and my solution: I bought soup from the same coffee shop. It was more expensive, but still not that much food. It never filled me up, but it let me stare at the ice-cream cooler while my navy-bean-and-ham soup was ladled and my focaccia bread — they were very generous with the bread — was being sliced. It made me feel like a grown-up, which is a bizarre kind of victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Ryan O’Hanlon is an editor at Pacific Standard. Photo: Joy

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