Ice-cream filled icons grow up so fast. We are, of course, referring to Fudgie the Whale, the classic Carvel character who's celebrating his 40th birthday this week. Aside from eating a massive slice (or two) of Fudgie the Whale cake, the best way to honor him is by taking a walk down memory lane to learn all about his fascinating history.
It all began when Tom Carvel decided to try his hand at creating unique cakes, which quickly evolved into a series of ice-cream filled characters. Some of the earliest creations were "Hug Me the Bear" and "Dumpy the Pumpkin."
“He’d say ‘I want something different, I don’t want Mickey Mouse and I don’t want Big Bird, I want something that people can associate with Carvel, with our ice cream,’” recalls Kathy Dumas, a former Carvel employee. “Somewhere back in the history, and it was way before my time, there was some little logo or icon or something that a had a little fish at the top and he kept saying ‘you know we do everything big for Mother’s Day, for Christmas and these other holidays, but we do nothing for Father’s day. I want to do something.’”
Enter Fudgie the Whale.
On June 1, 1977, Carvel’s research and development team decided a whale was the perfect Father's Day character cake.
“People said to make it look like a goldfish, but we didn’t want to be too cute or child oriented. He just wanted it to be a universal character that was fit for an adult or kid. I must have named a million fish of every shape and size you could possibly imagine,” explains Dumas.
The name Fudgie is downright perfect, but the story behind it is slightly less glamorous than we may assume. When Dumas began photographing the new cake, the lights and constant tweaking took a toll on the poor guy's tail. After a series of broken whale tails, the team got creative.
"We covered it [with chocolate] and it gave us the insurance that this tail would stay on. That’s how ‘Fudgie’ came about, because we had put fudge on actually to solve a problem," Dumas says.
Fudgie instantly captured the hearts of ice cream cake lovers everywhere. And although he's primarily associated with Father's Day, his popularity quickly made him a permanent fixture on Carvel's menu.
If you're anything like us, you're probably wondering how an ice-cream filled whale celebrates his 40th birthday. The answer is, "in serious style." Fudgie is scheduled to tour New York City, where he'll visit a variety of locations. But the celebration is also meant to serve the greater good.
“We want to continue Fudgie’s passion of giving back, so we’re calling on our fans to donate to the charity Save the Whales, it’s a non-profit for marine life conservation," says current Carvel president Scott Colwell. "What’s exciting is that it’s also Save the Whales’ 40th anniversary, so we’ve got a double birthday going on.”
Celebrating Fudgie's birthday with a massive slice of cake and a donation to marine life conservation? It doesn't get much better than that. Fudgie, we are not worthy of you.