Ice Cream Wins Wars

In business and in war, logistics crowns the victor. And sometimes, logistics comes in the form of ice cream!

Back in WWII’s Pacific Theater, intrepid US soldiers used high-altitude flights to transform rations into delicious ice cream. The recipe was simple: attach small propellers to ice cream cans for “churning”, load them up with canned milk and cocoa powder, and schedule an “oxygen system test” flight. A short half-hour later, the soldiers had fresh ice cream to dig into.

U.S. Marines at a battle station in the South Pacific eat ice cream before lunch in 1943. (Frank Filan / AP)

It wasn’t just remote squadrons churning out ice cream, though. By 1945, one barge in the US Navy was turned into a “floating ice cream factory”, while the Army built churned out freshly frozen treats directly on the front lines. Historical footage of the “geedunk” lines (supposedly named after the sound the vending machines made when they dispensed cups) shows US Navy soldiers lining up for scoops of fresh ice cream, plus chocolate sauce generously poured on top.

This might seem like a waste of money and resources, but ice cream was a powerful tool.

For the Allies, ice cream was a morale boost, a reprieve from heat, and a symbol of what they were fighting for. To enemy soldiers, ice cream was a different, deadly symbol. After all, if the US could dedicate an entire ship to producing ice cream in a humid environment halfway across the world, that meant two things: the US had enough of in-demand resources (like sugar) to supply their troops with a luxury, and they had incredible command over their supply chains. Bullets are far less perishable than milk, after all.

Whether you’re calling a “war room” meeting or looking to raise morale amongst your crew, remember the lessons of past unconventional logistics. And bring your employees some ice cream, they’ll appreciate it.


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