COLUMBIA – Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream in Columbia joined the world in commemorating Michael Jackson and his music by scooping some "Thrilla Vanilla" and "Smooth Cinnamal."
Following Jackson's death Thursday, customers found themselves ordering renamed flavors like “Beat It Blueberry” — later changed to “Blueberry Jean (is not my flavor)” — “Mamma Se, Mamma Mango” and “P.Y. (Pretty Young) Green Tea.”
There was also a “Black or White” special of chocolate and “Thrilla Vanilla” in a cone or cup.
Jonathan Hammons, 24, of Columbia and a Sparky’s employee, came up with the idea after learning of Jackson’s death via a text message from a friend. He thought the store should do something more than playing music, so he started thinking of ice cream puns.
Hammons came up with “Thrilla Vanilla,” and then it became a challenge to see how many names the employees could come up with that tied into Jackson's songs.
Hammons found himself breaking the news of Jackson's death to several customers Thursday evening.
“People were confused by the names and tribute and asked if he was dead. I felt like CNN that night,” he said.
Sparky’s manager was out of town that evening, but Hammons called him to get permission for the tribute. The manager suggested they come up with a flavor for Farrah Fawcett, who also died Thursday.
But the only flavor idea Hammons could come up with was “Charlie’s Angel Food Cake” – a flavor they did not have on hand.
“That would have required making angel food cake ice cream, and I wasn’t about to mess with that,” Hammons said.
The names of the Jackson-themed flavors are written on a sandwich board on the sidewalk in front of the store.
“People have been coming by and taking pictures. They may not be getting the ice cream, but they appreciate the names,” Hammons said.
Despite all the effort, Hammons said he's only a fan of Jackson's early music.
“He had a good 15-year run," he said. "That last 15, not so much."
Hammons expects the ice cream names will change back to normal by Monday.