Where’s Tom?

Once upon a time, when our family lived in New Haven (and listened regularly to the radio news on WCBS), my two-year-old son Nate, infant Si, and beloved spouse Margaret collaborated to obtain a Father’s Day cake for me. Not just any cake, mind you, but an official Tom Carvel ice cream cake, of the sort that Carvel sold as “a whale of a cake — for a whale of a Dad.” (The Carvel’s site reveals that this design bears the name, “Fudgie the Whale.” Whatever.)

This afternoon, Pippa proudly brought up from the basement a cake she had frosted for me, to bring back fond memories of that long, long-ago Father’s Day before she was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye:

Whale of a Cake

Thanks Pippa, Si,and Nate, and thanks to Margaret, who (as the greatest Mom ever) always shows me how to be a better Dad. . . .

Later: One of the benefits of the Net comes when helpful readers join in to correct mistaken claims. For instance, no sooner had Margaret read this post than she assured me that I was off by a year, that the cake in question had been given me when Nate was 1, and we were preparing to move from our home in the basement of the Berkeley Center at Yale Divinity School to our housing in downtown New Haven. She messaged me, “You had just finished your M.Div., after a very difficult semester in which you had had mono. Then, at the end of the semester, in the post-school let-down period, in addition to recovering from mono, you developed terrific back problems. You were stuck on the bed, where I set Nate with you, briefly, to go out and purchase a cake. I was in a state! Getting out of the parking lot of the Carvel store with the cake, I backed up into somebody’s new truck. I made no mark on the truck, but the guy was massively upset and angry, since it was brand new.”

Ancient Whale

Pippa, however, recalled the photos of the event and (though she was not even there! and notice what a great job she did in reproducing the original cake!) showed that Nate himself was only a few months old on the Father’s Day in question — thus, my first as a father. So the cake in question was not a Fudgie, and was given when Nate wasn’t even one year old. It was still a whale of a cake, from Carvel Ice Cream, and I’m still thankful that Margaret went to such lengths to obtain it for me.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Comedian Patton Oswalt does a hilarious, yet crude, ramble about Tom Carvel and Fudgie the Whale on his album “Feeling Kinda Patton.” I knew they existed but it’s great to see one in a classic picture like that.

  2. OMGoodness. Synchronicity. Jenna and George got me “Fudgie the Whale” at my request for my birthday on the 9th!! Tom Carvel, who started Carvel, was always on TV in my childhood because Carvel started in upstate ny. He died years ago. But fudgie lives. And it was good. (though, not as many ‘chocolate jimmies’ as I remembered).

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