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Fudgie the Whale: 40 Years of Father's Day Cakes (And Bad Ads)

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Fudgie the Whale celebrates its 40th Father's Day this weekend.
Fudgie the Whale celebrates its 40th Father's Day this weekend. Credit: Carvel
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Fudgie the Whale, who turned 40 last month, is perhaps New York's most delicious Father's Day tradition.

Chocolate and vanilla ice cream, two layers of crunchy cookie crumbs, topped with fudge, all in the shape of a smiling whale: Fudgie is a cultural icon, a New York institution.

The Simpsons parodied Fudgie. John Oliver praised him. One YouTuber, obsessed with chocolate and vanilla ice cream covered in fudge, dedicated an anthem to the whale.

Fudgie's place in our cultural ethos is…weird, and it all stems from the iconic ads from the '70s and '80s, when Fudgie creator Tom Carvel — born Greek, named Athanasios Karvelas — told buyers to stop by Carvel and pick up a Fudgie the Whale ice cream cake for your "whale of a dad."

The commercials are comically bad, but at least the ice cream is "made fresh in store, every day."

Fudgie isn't the only Carvel holiday cake. There's Tom the Turkey, for Thanksgiving; Cupie Puss, a discontinued Valentine's Day desert and Dumpy the Pumpkin for Halloween. (Fudgie also has a girlfriend, Ms. Fudgie, complete with eyelashes). None, though, have the fame and legend of Fudgie, which sold 50,000 cakes last year. That's a whale of a haul.