There is a universal consumer experience for millennials of a certain age. You unwrap a gift or remove your sheets or you just turn around and see the frosted bottle with its red label. It’s a Smirnoff ice cream, and once you lay your eyes on it it’s only a matter of seconds before you get down on your knees and malt liquor runs down your throat. Sometimes the ritual is done with joy, other times in abject horror, but it is a challenge that we have been trained to accept no matter what. We respect the Icing Act.
What began in 2010 as a fraternity house farce quickly caught on nationwide, an act performed at parties and weddings, in offices and on the streets, and it even finds a new one. living with Gen Z seniors thanks to TikTok. Despite the persistence of the drinking game, this is something Smirnoff always tries to distance himself from so as not to encourage binge drinking – prior to an interview with brand representatives for this story, I was specifically told. said not to mention the frosting at all. But as Smirnoff Ice turns 21 (yes, a Smirnoff Ice is now old enough to be legally Iced), it’s nearly impossible to separate the drink from the game it inspired.
The rules for frosting are simple: if you lay eyes on a Smirnoff ice cream that has been hidden or otherwise placed for you to find it, you have to kneel down and blow it all out. The only way out is with a block of ice: if you have a Smirnoff ice cream on you when presented with another bottle, the person who tried to ice you should now drink both drinks themselves. If you don’t have your own bottle and refuse to drink whatever you find, you are basically dead for your brothers.
The appeal of the game? There is the ability to get creative with your delivery, the top of being prepared and turning the attack on the attacker. And like so many games, it’s just a little something to make you and your friends laugh with the ability to make you buzz.
A June 2010 YouTube video titled “How to Ice a Bro” describes the process. In it, a brother waits for the postman to drop the mail at another brother’s house, then slips the Smirnoff ice cream into the mailbox before calling his brother to tell him to check the delivery, brother. Without skipping a beat, this brother takes a knee and blows, proving his real brother. This is one of the earliest recordings still on the Internet of a frosting, released around the same time as the game’s cover in The voice of the village, CBS News and The New York Times.
The icing rules were made official in the spring of 2010 when members of Pi Kappa Alpha from the College of Charleston in South Carolina sent BroBible.com the two key milestones. (Most of the sources are anonymous in this first cover because it was about college students trying to enter the workforce without the “famous Smirnoff Ice chugger” showing up during a background check. Several people I reached out to for this article declined to speak on the case for similar reasons.) From there, those same fraternity brethren launched the pop-up BrosIcingBros.com where they collected images de, well, bros icing bros. This led to more memorization with the late Tumblr You Got Iced and IceAshton.com, a website encouraging people to use Ice Ashton Kutcher.
At the 2010 Webby Awards, life imitated art when, according to The voice of the village, Foursquare founder Naveen Selvadurai tried unsuccessfully to Ice Buzz Aldrin. In just a few months, Icing walked out of the fraternity house and became a phenomenon.
Almost a decade before alcoholic seltzer became the hottest alcohol on the market, Smirnoff Ice, which embodies many of these now popular qualities of seltzer, was chosen for this challenge because people didn’t think that it was really good. Foster Kamer from The voice of the village called it “The only malt liquor worse than spilled BP oil washed out of the ocean.” And in a very gendered and extremely 2010 explanation of the game, the staff of the University of Central Florida newspaper Knight News called Smirnoff Ice a “girl’s drink” that “many men find disgusting to the taste”, hence the classification “brother”. (They didn’t know it, some women and non-binary people also hate the taste! We can be ice cream and ice cream too! We showed them!)
At the time, there was speculation that Smirnoff himself was really behind the viral trend, trying to increase sales of Ices a decade after their existence. Jim Edwards of CBS News noted that at the start of Icing’s popularity, Smirnoff’s Facebook page posted cryptic statuses that could be related to the game, such as “This summer, Smirnoff Ice could crash your party” and “This summer, unlock the unexpected ”.
In 2019, Smirnoff launched an equally suspicious campaign. The Cremsiffino gift box (an anagram of Smirnoff Ice) was labeled as a luxury branded wooden hanger on the outside. Inside? Smirnoff ice cream. The idea was to send these “gifts” to friends so that they unexpectedly unwrap a bottle of drink. Last year’s Cremsiffino giveaway was a festive puzzle that revealed a secret Smirnoff ice cream in the picture when put together. It’s a lot of surprise to Smirnoff Ices from a company that refuses to talk about Icing. . .
Because executives refuse to talk about it, it’s unclear exactly how the frosting may have affected Smirnoff’s bottom line. But for the record, it definitely brought the product to new audiences. “Guys who would never buy Smirnoff before are even buying it now to protect themselves from attack,” said one college student. The New York Times in 2010. And based on the popularity of the trend-highlighting TikTok videos – the hashtag #smirnofficechallenge has over 36 million views – Smirnoff certainly can’t hurt.
I have witnessed a lot of frosting in my day (my college boyfriend was in a fraternity around the time it all started so you can imagine) but one of the most memorable for me was at a holiday party in 2011. Friends and I made a Secret Santa and not one, but two of those gifts were just six packs of Smirnoff Ice, waiting to be blown away. However, that’s nothing compared to some of the stories shared with me via Twitter (and I can’t wait to hear about your craziest icings in the comments).
“The first one I remember was when we all went camping when we were 23. They hid them under pillows and stuff and like right before bed you would find him and had to get down on your knees and blow, “Nick Brennan wrote to me in a DM. “These people literally work for the State Department now.”
“We froze everyone at our weddings and stag and hen parties. It was in 2016! My husband made everyone walk to the top of a mountain and then froze them when they reached the top. It was hilarious, ”Bunny McFadden wrote. “It’s kind of a ‘brother’ tradition, but we had a lot of fun playing pranks on each other. We lived in Europe for a little while and they looked at us like we had three heads when we tried to explain it.
“My band was playing a show once and someone removed the microphone from the stand when my back turned and replaced it with a bottle of ice. e-mail, just one of the many wild incidents he has personally experienced. He and his friends were the first to embrace frosting and “really pushed it to the limit immediately.” At the time, a friend in particular, Andrew, brought him to his workplace, Piece Pizza in Chicago, hiding Smirnoff ice cream in pizza ovens, topping containers, etc., forcing other cooks to use ice cream on the clock.
“I was often Andrew’s Ice’s target, and this time he took an empty growler Piece and filled it with Smirnoff Ice and printed a giant personalized Ice label and threw it at me in an attempt to get me. watching me drop down to my knee and blow 64 fluid ounces of sweet malt liquor at a backyard party, “Cimarusti said.” Lucky for me, we had also entered the rules in depth and I knew something called the “block of ice.” I had an Ice in my pocket, so it turned out to be Andrew trying to drink the growler (he didn’t get very far) .
Almost as soon as it launched, BrosIcingBros.com closed its doors. At the time The voice of the village speculated as to the reason – there was too much backlash, Smirnoff Ice threatened legal action, they wanted to come out on top – in the end, reporting that the brothers had tried to sell to other brothers, asking for five figures at sites like BroBible.com. At the time, the Bro Bible Brothers said they wouldn’t pay more than five cases of Smirnoff Ice for the site, but given the call to bring back the icing made on the site earlier this year, maybe be that they wish they had picked it up when they had the chance.
But the demise of that one online presence certainly didn’t stop Icing from continuing. And if Smirnoff isn’t really in the game, the company is certainly doing a bad job of trying to slow things down. Of course, many of the updates to the Smirnoff Ice brand and packaging seem like an attempt to make the most of our current difficult seltzer moment. But recent canned options, not to mention new flavors like margarita, mango, and now spicy tamarind, only make these things easier and easier. Plus, with TikTok always catching our attention and leading the trends, people will only get more creative with their Icing attacks.
Over a decade after its creation, just in time for Smirnoff Ice’s 21st anniversary, it looks like the frosting is more and more exciting and delicious than ever. Yes, it is very silly. Yes, it is very juvenile. But if asking a friend to drink 12 ounces of a low ABV seltzer just brings us some joy, we should continue that joy. Responsibly, of course.