Went out to a barbeque restaurant last night with some FC colleagues and when the dessert menu came, how could I not, as Seth Godin’s editor, have been intrigued by the purple cow float? I honestly had never heard of such a dessert but of course had heard of Seth’s book, Purple Cow, which is about remarkable products.
If you look on the web, Purple Cows come in many liquid forms. There’s the alcoholic kind, which is grape juice and vodka. Typically, though, a purple cow is aimed at kids, which leads me to wonder how many people mistakenly bought Seth’s book for their kids. (Or perhaps more accurately, how many bookstore workers misshelved Purple Cow in the kids’ department?) So that means grape juice is still part of the mix, but the vodka sadly tends to get replaced with some dairy product. I guess those Larry King radio ads about grape juice containing more antioxidants than red wine or pomegranate juice still aren’t quite pulling grape juice out of the 2-11 demographic.
Some recipes contain milk, some milk and ice cream, and some even add lemon juice. Here’s a recipe that swaps out grape juice for, gasp!, real fruit, in this case, blueberries to make the drink purple.
What’s interesting about all these recipes is that they’re all overly complicated. Lemon juice? In a kids drink? Godin’s idea is to be remarkable, not overproduced. Last night, as far as I could tell, the purple cow float was grape soda and vanilla ice cream. That’s it! The recipe closest to this that came up on the first page of Google results, still unnecessarily added ice and vanilla extract. Doesn’t the vanilla ice cream also in the recipe sort of cover those bases? And then you’re supposed to put it in the blender. But then you lose the purple and white contrast that makes it look like a cow! Duh.
Of course, it’s remarkable that a New York restaurant can get $4.50 for grape soda and vanilla ice cream. So the float is not only true to the kids cookbook traditions of the name but also to Godin’s marketing construct. I’m talking about it, right? And the restaurant is selling something at a premium by being creative (I can promise you that this is the first time I’ve seen a purple cow float on a restaurant menu here). So if you want to drink in the ideas of your favorite marketing guru, I recommend Blue Smoke next time you’re here in New York.