Three mature archetypal meanings of ice cream

On our last essay, we analyzed the three youthful archetypal meanings of ice cream, which were the Inner Child, the Companion, and the Jester. Let’s pick up from where we left off and interpret three more mature archetypal meanings of ice cream.

The Seductress

Etymologically speaking, seduction means “to lead away, lead astray” in Latin. Back then it used to refer to “persuading someone to subordinate to force.” Actually, the sexual meaning of seduction is a relatively new interpretation. Nevertheless, the Temptress role of ice cream has an undeniable pull over people. Let’s explore ice cream from the lenses of the Lover archetype.


The Companion, which we analyzed last week, is a “friendly” interpretation of the Lover. The Seductress, on the other hand, is the “indulgent” side of this archetype. Probably because of its sugary taste, there is an indulging aspect of ice cream that brings out the Inner Hedonist in us.

Pay attention to what people often say: “I am addicted to ice cream.” According to Jenny Schade’s market research for a major consumer packaged goods company, women crave this sweet treat, describing it as an addiction. The emotional need for “something thick, cool, and creamy that satisfies my craving” emerged spontaneously in Schade’s focus groups. Fittingly, one participant said, “It’s the little devil on your shoulder whispering; You need ice cream.” It is not a stretch to say that the Seductress interpretation of ice cream speaks very directly and loudly to women.

“It’s the little devil on your shoulder whispering; You need ice cream.”

Sexual desires, indulgence, and longings are all parts of the Seductress. Therefore, unlike the first three, this interpretation of ice cream speaks only to adults. Ice cream brands that are built on the Seductress would -naturally- have more limited potential. That being said, in a crowded market, where the Inner Child and the Companion are taken, pursuing the temptation route could be the key to success.

The Healer

According to Wikipedia, a study found that “American males prefer warm, hearty, meal-related comfort foods (such as steak, casseroles, and soup) while females prefer comfort foods that were more snack related (such as chocolate and ice cream.) There is clearly a comforting and caregiving side of ice cream, particularly for women. Suitably, the Healer is the fifth archetypal meaning of ice cream.


Based on Jenny Schade’s study above, ice cream’s healer role has a strong pull. Schade reports that women described the power of ice cream “to comfort, restore, and heal” them from everyday challenges. The below quotes are a case in point.

  • “When you’re feeling sad about something — maybe after a bad blind date — you eat ice cream…and you feel a little better because you have something that satisfies you.”
  • “You can count on it to be there for you in good times and in bad.”
  • “When you’re having a bad day, there’s always ice cream to pick you up.”

It is unclear who coined the term “ice cream therapy.” Maybe it was created by the Corporate America or by some random folk. Regardless, while the expression’s origin is obscure, its meaning and validity are indisputable. “Time is a great healer,” says the proverb. Ice cream is not that different. It possesses “therapeutic powers for psychic wounds.” Etymologically speaking, psychotherapy means “care” (therapy) for the “soul” (psyche.) Fittingly, ice cream is a Caretaker for the soul.

“Time is a great healer,” says the proverb. Ice cream is not that different. It possesses “therapeutic powers for psychic wounds.”

When you are down, a scoop of ice cream could kickstart your inner process of psychological recovery. It could help you find the power to rectify and care for the issues in your life. Aside from all that, though, ice cream has the potential to be more than just a nonjudgemental, supportive listener: it could be a psychological transformer.

Whether we imagine ice cream through the lenses of the Caregiver or that of the Magician’s, we land on a very fertile territory regarding meaning. Smart marketers could leverage the caring and transformative power of ice cream.

The Destroyer

The final meaning of ice cream is its least-known one. According to the dream analyst Tony Crisp, “Ice-cream can occasionally be wordplay meaning ‘I scream’. Because ice cream is frozen but sensually pleasurable, sometimes it points to feelings that were frozen, perhaps repressed, that are now being released or melted.” Such an interpretation leads us to the category’s wild side, for ice cream has the enticement of the forbidden fruit. That’s why it could evoke our Inner Destroyer.

The garden of Eden with the fall of man, by Jan Brueghel de Elder and Peter Paul Rubens

The word “destroy” comes from Latin destruere “tear down, demolish,” literally “un-build,” from de- “un-, down” (see de-) + struere “to pile, build.” We all have things, people, and structures in our lives that we want to let go, but simply can’t. That psychological dichotomy creates repressed rage. And ice cream could act as a release valve, allowing us to temporarily destroy that negative energy.

As Carol Pearson says, “the natural habitat for the Destroyer is places that are hidden, out of the way.” That’s why this particular interpretation of ice cream shows itself in a shadowy way -the self-destructive behaviours. It can be seen as an addiction, a compulsion, or even as a sin (i.e. forbidden fruit.) It is possible to interpret ice cream as an indulgence or pleasure that is borderline illegal or immoral.

The natural habitat for the Destroyer is places that are hidden, out of the way. That’s why ice cream’s this particular interpretation shows itself in a shadowy way -the self-destructive behaviours.

Obviously, this is the most adult interpretation of the product. It is also the most highly polarizing one, for it contradicts with the dominant category meaning, which is the Inner Child. That said, all brands that are rooted in the Destroyer (e.g. Virgin or Harley Davidson) create sharply contrasting opinions and beliefs. While this approach forces a brand to focus on a subsegment of the market, its customers often become loyalists. That’s why in a hyper-competitive category, the Destroyer interpretation of ice cream could be highly differentiating and energizing.

The great sage Carl Jung once said, “The meaning and design of a problem seem not to lie in its solution, but in our working at it incessantly.” Over these essays, that’s exactly what we tried to do: By repeatedly digging deeper and deeper, we unearthed six archetypal meanings of ice cream, each one possessing rich meaning. If you made it this far, why don’t you comment below and let me know what you think? Of all the archetypes, which one appeals you the most? Which one has more potential in your market? Is there another interpretation of ice cream that comes to your mind? And finally, which category would you like me to interpret next?

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