10 Years Later, No Viral Challenge Has Accomplished What Icing Has (2023)

You might want to think twice before you open that Pringles can. Or slip on those shoes. Or go to move that sweater off that chair. You sure you want to? I mean, go ahead, just be cautious. You never know where one might turn up. And when it does, there’s no going back. You’ll sigh, crack a smile, take a knee, and someone will hand you the bottle opener attached to their keys. Then you must chug, in cold, sickly gulps, the entire bottle of Smirnoff Ice. You have to. Those are the rules.

In 2010, The New York Times called icing "the nation’s biggest viral drinking game," and a decade later, remarkably, that statement still stands. No other drinking challenge has been as pervasive in college culture and beyond. I still occasionally flip past the classic someone-icing-someone Instagram story, and last summer I saw Smirnoff Ice on a menu at a diner and ordered one for a friend who hadn’t shown yet. A colleague of mine attended a 2018 wedding in which the bride had an Ice waiting in her garter for the groom. And when I mentioned this story in a recent staff meeting, a video was pulled up of another colleague being iced in our office within seconds.

Icing lingers like a high school friend you catch up with once every few months. Always nice to see, never top of mind. The Smirnoff Ice itself has the same energy—it’s about as average of a malt beverage as they come. Not at the top of anyone’s would-reach-for-first drink list, but it’s not undrinkable. The challenge began because no one—especially a frat boy who exclusively favors PBR—really wants to down a Smirnoff Ice. The mediocrity (and by pre-woke, "bro" culture standards, femininity) of the drink is what makes forcing one upon your friend fun in the first place.

I don’t remember the first time I witnessed an icing or the first time I was iced myself, and I don’t know how or when I learned what icing was. Like daylight savings time and marriage, icing is the kind of societal custom that simply is because it has always been. But when a recent email about a limited edition, Fourth of July-inspired Smirnoff Ice (which, like most neon blue refreshments, does not give off a distinct "fit for human consumption" vibe) led me down a Google rabbit hole, I learned that The Year of Our Lord 2020 is, among other things, the 10-year anniversary of Smirnoff icing. As hard as it is to believe, the Neanderthals did not ice one another back in the day. Neither did your parents. So in the absence of a frat culture museum, which I pray does not exist but am too frightened to Google in case it does, what follows is a complete and thorough history of the Smirnoff Ice, in honor of its decennial.

10 Years Later, No Viral Challenge Has Accomplished What Icing Has (1)

A Smirnoff Ice party in 2002.

(Video) The Ice Diet

The exact origin of icing is difficult to determine—according to the Times, icing probably began either in Vermont or at Saint Lawrence University in New York. But its rise to virality is a real Zuckerberg/Winklevoss situation: Fraternity members of Pi Kappa Alpha at the College of Charleston said they were the first to put the rules online, on BroBible.com, in April of 2010. That post was then allegedly taken without permission by a 22-year-old recent college graduate in nearby Columbia, South Carolina, who used it as the foundation for BrosIcingBros.com. What is incontestable is that this bygone time was rampant with unironic domain name use of the term "bro." May heaven forgive us.

10 Years Later, No Viral Challenge Has Accomplished What Icing Has (2)

An Ice for America.

BrosIcingBros.com no longer exists, but was once, for a few exhilarating springtime months, a beacon of cross-country, user-submitted icing content. It was a site to gain inspiration on creative places to hide Ices for one’s own bros; a glorious internet haven for hungover buds to share a laugh. The creator of the website, who wished to remain anonymous in a 2010 Fortune interview, said that by the end of April of that year, he had more than 100 email submissions per day and needed to enlist friends to help him moderate. The site, may it rest in peace, was shut down before June of 2010, perhaps by Smirnoff itself.

From the outset, Smirnoff and it’s parent company, Diageo, denied any involvement in icing. A publicity campaign that blatantly supported binge drinking would have been ill advised, as would one seemingly predicated on the unpleasant nature of a product. Still, Diageo’s statement at the time, which insisted it was taking measures to "stop this misuse of its Smirnoff Ice brand," also shrugged it off, noting that "some people think it is fun." Despite internet theories of its involvement, the brand maintained that "the icing phenomenon is consumer generated...we never want under-age 'icing' and we always want responsible drinking." Basically, the messaging was: Buy it and chug it all you want, as long as you are of legal age to do so.

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Like daylight savings time and marriage, icing is the kind of societal custom that simply is because it has always been.

And a phenomenon it was. The game spread like wildfire in the spring and summer of 2010—icings were reported in prestigious New York offices; Mike Zuckerberg iced Facebook’s director of product; someone created a website with the sole aim of imploring the public to ice Ashton Kutcher; Coolio got iced in the middle of his own concert. College kids would carry Ices clipped onto their belts in order to ward off attacks (according to the original rules, your attacker drinks both bottles if you already have one on you). Smirnoff, it seems, just got lucky. And though the viral videos, celebrity icings, and office sneak attacks tapered off, icing lived on, humming like a refrigerator in the background of college culture in the years that followed.

Four years later, the Washington Post declared that "the game ran its course. 'Icing' is no longer a thing." Now, I was in college in 2014 and can say, at least anecdotally, that this is resoundingly fake news. But in this same article in which the Post set forth to decry the Ice, it reported that Americans purchased over 300 million Smirnoff Ices that year—enough for everyone in the country to get iced once. Per capita consumption was even higher in Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada (where I went to school). Icing may not have made headlines for a while, but it continued to humbly chug along (I’m sorry) at parties everywhere.

But then! Icing made the news again in 2018, when the Washington Post reported that a White House staffer—the deputy director of the Presidential Personnel Office—was iced at a happy hour. According to the Post, the PPO, which is responsible for recruiting and vetting political appointees, under Trump reportedly "became something of a social hub, where young staffers from throughout the administration stopped by to hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes, known as vaping." The White House even confirmed that PPO officials played "the Icing game," explaining that happy hours were a way to network and let off steam. The Hill, Bustle, Business Insider, and Thrillist, among others, all covered the icing on Capitol Hill.

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10 Years Later, No Viral Challenge Has Accomplished What Icing Has (4)

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And finally, nine years after the first reported icing, Smirnoff softened. With icing settling comfortably into respected cultural custom, perhaps it figured it was safe to assume no one would be starting a blog documenting icings in 2019, hence encouraging underage drinking. During the 2019 holiday season, the company fully leaned in marketing-wise, creating generic-looking gift boxes that advertised lame gifts—either a hand-mixer, a wooden clothes hanger, or an ironing board—but in actuality contained a singular Smirnoff Ice. The boxes were branded with the name Cremisiffino, which is an anagram for Smirnoff Ice. Clever! The company explained that it was turning "a boring gifting moment into delicious, unforgettable fun, and the gift giver into the party legend." Sadly, these boxes are now sold out, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: You can make one yourself at home with literally any box in the world.

Not many viral trends stick around in such a way. You don’t see anyone doing the Ice Bucket challenge in the White House these days. No one's planking anymore. Remember neknominations? A (dangerous) one summer wonder. But icing is the Bhad Bhabie of drinking trends. There’s something about it that society—from the grimiest of frat parties to the highest office in the nation—just can’t seem to shake. Why? It’s good, classic prankery. You get to be creative with the hiding location, you get to witness your target’s reaction, and then you get to watch them suffer. And while icing's tenth year has been a rough one, it's worth noting that icing is compliant with social distancing. You don’t need a large gathering or an indoor space to make it happen. Just a thought.

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In the Times’ 2010 deep dive into the matter, interviewee Alex Rospos said that he "thought that their current exuberance [regarding icing] would not last through the summer." Time has proven him wrong. You know what to do.

10 Years Later, No Viral Challenge Has Accomplished What Icing Has (5)

Lauren Kranc

Assistant Content Strategy Editor

Lauren Kranc is the assistant content strategy editor at Esquire, where she runs the brand’s social media accounts and covers pop culture and television, with entirely too narrow an expertise on true crime shows

(Video) ESCAPING 100 Layers of ICE vs CARDBOARD!


How long has frosting existed? ›

The first published recipe for frosting was found in The Experienced English Housekeeper in 1769, and was attributed to Elizabeth Raffald. However, frosting is thought to have been around a least 200 years before the publication.

Why do you think are the reasons why cakes are frosted? ›

The goal in frosting or glazing a cake is to put it on smoothly, while keeping the cake crumbs out. It also adds a protective shield that preserves freshness in a baked dessert. Usually two layers of frosting are put on: a crumb coat or a thin layer and a final coat.

What is the most popular icing? ›

Buttercream is the most popular type of frosting largely because of its few ingredients and easy application. Classic buttercream requires beating butter into icing sugar until you reach a frosting consistency.

What is the most common icing? ›

1. Buttercream Frosting. Buttercream frostings rely on the main ingredient of butter and will be the most common type of frosting you will find in a bakery. Plain buttercream is also referred to as American buttercream or simple buttercream frosting.

What is the history of icing? ›

The first documented case of frosting occurred in 1655, and included sugar, eggs and rosewater. The icing was applied to the cake then hardened in the oven. The earliest attestation of the verb to ice in this sense seems to date from around 1600, and the noun icing from 1683. Frosting was first attested in 1750.

What is icing made out of? ›

The main ingredient while making icing is Sugar which is mixed with water, milk, or cream as per the recipe. The icing can also be flavored with Vanilla or Lemon Juice and then the mixture is poured over warm baked goods.

Why was icing invented? ›

Icing was invented in 1494

It was originally used as a topping for marchpanes, an almond and sugar dessert.

What are the four types of icing? ›

Different names for Icing are:

Glace icing = Icing sugar + water. Royal Icing = Icing sugar + egg white. Fondant = Icing sugar + glucose syrup. Frosting = Icing sugar + fat = softer structure.

What is traditional icing called? ›

Traditional (or American) buttercream frosting is the classic birthday cake frosting. It's made with a mixture of fluffy creamed butter, confectioners' sugar, a small amount of liquid (usually milk) and flavoring such as vanilla, coffee or raspberry.

What are the two main types of frosting? ›

When considering the many different types of frostings there are for cakes, cupcakes, and other baked goods, you can think about them in six broad categories: buttercream frosting, cooked frosting, whipped cream frosting, royal icing, ganaches, and glazes.

How do you make a cake easier to frost? ›

Start by using an offset spatula to frost the top of the cake, starting from the center. For exceptionally smooth frosting, dip the spatula into hot water, then dry it. The warm spatula will really help smooth the frosting out by melting any butter or shortening in your recipe.

How do you frost a cake so it looks nice? ›

  1. The Tools You'll Need to Smoothly Frost a Cake. ...
  2. Step 1: Level Your Cake Layers Once They've Completely Cooled. ...
  3. Step 2: Chill Your Cake Layers. ...
  4. Step 3: Stack Your Cake Layers. ...
  5. Step 4: Crumb Coat & Chill. ...
  6. Step 5: Add on the Second Coat of Frosting. ...
  7. Step 8: Keep Practicing. ...
  8. Troubleshooting.
May 30, 2021

What is the most common icing used in America? ›

Buttercream Frosting

By far the most common frosting category, buttercream is made from combining some type of fat, like butter, with sugar.

What frosting do professionals use? ›

Swiss meringue buttercream is probably the most standard buttercream for pastry professionals. It is incredibly smooth, making it an extremely popular choice for icing cakes. Compared to American buttercream, it has a much stronger butter flavor, but is considerably less sweet.

What kind of frosting tastes best? ›

Or, just keep it simple and unadulterated – with these great store-bought options, you can't go wrong.
  • Duncan Hines Creamy Buttercream Frosting. ...
  • Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Chocolate Frosting. ...
  • Duncan Hines Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting. ...
  • Betty Crocker Whipped Vanilla Frosting. ...
  • Betty Crocker Hershey's Milk Chocolate Frosting.
Apr 1, 2022

What is the most stable frosting? ›

Italian buttercream is the most stable of all the buttercreams. While American buttercream uses mostly powdered sugar and butter, both Italian and Swiss buttercreams are meringue-based and use egg whites, granulated sugar, and butter. This creates a much silkier, lighter, and not overly sweet buttercream.

What is the most severe form of icing? ›

Icing is more severe if cumulus clouds are embedded in the stratus layer. The likelihood of structural icing is greatest in the temperature range from 0°C to -10°C. The likelihood decreases, but is still possible between -10°C to -20°C. Research findings indicate icing is most intense near the top of stratiform clouds.

What is the best icing for hot weather? ›

While melting is inevitable if no extra steps are taken to keep the desserts as cool as it can be in the summer heat, there is a type of frosting that can handle the heat better than other frostings: the buttercream made with egg whites.

What is the icing trend? ›

Icing is a drinking game and Internet meme popular in 2010, in which one person, conceals a bottle of Smirnoff Ice in a place that another individual will find it: upon doing so they are immediately required to kneel and drink it.

Why did they change icing rule? ›

Hybrid Icing

If a player of the team that iced the puck touches it first, the play continues. If the opposing team touches the puck first, play is stopped. This style of hockey icing was introduced to reduce the number of injuries caused by players slamming into the boards during standard icing.

How do you explain icing? ›

Icing is when a player on his team's side of the red center line shoots the puck all the way down the ice and it crosses the red goal line at any point (other than the goal). Icing is not permitted when teams are at equal strength or on the power play.

What are examples of icing? ›

There are seven basic types of icing: buttercream, flat, foam, fondant, fudge, royal, and glazes.

Why is it called icing? ›

Well 'icing sugar' was sprinkled on top of baked goods and made it look like a fresh snowfall, or the morning after a frost, so the name is pretty self explanatory. The thicker pastes which are now used are made from the same sugar, and used for the same purpose, so the name was passed on.

What's the difference in icing? ›

Icing is thinner than frosting but not quite as thin as a glaze. Typically made with powdered sugar and liquid, such as water, milk, or juice, icing can be drizzled or spread. Icing has more shine and a smoother consistency than frosting.

Why is icing illegal? ›

Icing a hockey puck is illegal because it can cause an obstruction in the playing field, which gives the red team an advantage. Red icing results in a goal being awarded to the red team, even if it was not actually touched by a player from that side of the ice.

What are the three main functions of icing quizlet? ›

Also called frostings, these are sweet coatings for cakes and other baked goods. They have three main functions: (1) they improve the keeping qualities of the cake by forming a protective coating around it, (2) they contribute flavor and richness, and (3) they improve appearance.

What are the 3 types of icing? ›

Icing Type

There are three types of structural icing: clear, rime, and mixed. In most cases, the type of structural ice is most dependent on the air temperature. However, the likelihood of clear ice increases with droplet size. Clear ice typically forms when temperatures are around 2 ° C. to -10° C.

Which is better icing or frosting? ›

The Best Uses of Frosting vs Icing

The frosting is better suited for thicker, more textured designs on top of cakes and cupcakes. You can also use cake frosting between the layers of a cake. Icing is the better choice for decorating cookies and creating thinner, more delicate designs.

What is the synonym of icing? ›

synonyms for icing
  • cream.
  • glaze.
  • ornamentation.
  • topping.
  • trimming.
  • glacé
  • sugar paste.

What is hard icing called? ›

Royal icing is a hard white icing, made from softly beaten egg whites, icing sugar (powdered sugar), and sometimes lemon or lime juice. It is used to decorate Christmas cakes, wedding cakes, gingerbread houses, cookies and many other cakes and biscuits.

What do British people call icing? ›

The icing (UK)/ frosting (US) on the cake, is something that makes a good situation even better.

What is the difference between icing and frosting? ›

The terms are used interchangeably, but frosting is generally thicker and fluffier than icing, which is thinner and tends to set quickly and harden when dry. Icing is generally not spreadable like frosting—it needs to be poured, spooned, or drizzled over baked goods.

What was the first layer of frosting called? ›

A crumb coat is the first layer of buttercream icing — it is an extremely important step in decorating a cake.

What's the best frosting for cupcakes? ›

American buttercream, what most people just call “buttercream,” is the most common frosting in the United States and also the absolute easiest to make. Meringue buttercream is a little harder to make, but the work pays off in some of the fluffiest frosting you'll ever have!

Is it better to frost a cake cold or room temp? ›

Don't Frost a Warm Cake

Baking pros in our test kitchen emphasize that it is essential to let the cake completely cool before frosting. Better yet, you can let the cake sit in the refrigerator for a while to make the process even easier.

Is it better to frost a cake with cold or room temp frosting? ›

Attempting to spread frosting onto warm cake layers is a recipe for sloppy disaster. Chill your cake layers for at least 2 hours, or better, overnight. If you've made your frosting ahead, make sure it's at room temperature before you start.

Which buttercream is best for frosting a cake? ›

Since Swiss buttercream is so soft, it's better used for frosting cakes rather than piping or decorating. Make sure mixture is cool before adding butter, otherwise your butter will melt.

Can you frost a cake with store bought frosting? ›

In most cases, store-bought frosting has a thin consistency. This is fine for piping borders and other flat decorations, but if you want to use your icing to pipe cupcake swirls, ice your cake or pipe up-right decorations, such as roses or flowers, you'll need to change the consistency of your frosting to medium.

Should you put a cake in the fridge after frosting? ›

If you made a cake that won't be served for a few days, cover and refrigerate your cake. Lastly, if your cake includes a fresh fruit filling or topping, or has a frosting made with whipped cream or mascarpone, cover and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve, and refrigerate any leftovers as well.

How thick should buttercream be on a cake? ›

If you're covering the cake with fondant, a quarter of an inch is more than adequate. I use exactly the same amount as with ganache or until I'm satisfied with the finish.

Can you frost a cake with buttercream? ›

When you're frosting a cake, you want the buttercream to be thin consistency, meaning that it's easy to spread and holds its shape without being runny. This vanilla buttercream recipe is foolproof for this, but whatever recipe you use, test it before adding it onto the cake.

What are the 7 general types of icing? ›

There are seven basic types of icing: buttercream, flat, foam, fondant, fudge, royal, and glazes.

What is icing give example? ›

Icing, or frosting, is a sweet, often creamy glaze made of sugar with a liquid, such as water or milk, that is often enriched with ingredients like butter, egg whites, cream cheese, or flavorings. It is used to coat or decorate baked goods, such as cakes. When it is used between layers of cake it is known as a filling.

What are the six basic types of icing? ›

When considering the many different types of frostings there are for cakes, cupcakes, and other baked goods, you can think about them in six broad categories: buttercream frosting, cooked frosting, whipped cream frosting, royal icing, ganaches, and glazes.

What are the most popular frosting flavors? ›

Some of the most popular frosting flavors are chocolate, vanilla and buttercream. Other people enjoy more exotic frosting flavors like white chocolate raspberry, strawberry shortcake, or orange cream.

What is the first layer of icing called? ›

A crumb coat is the first layer of buttercream icing — it is an extremely important step in decorating a cake.

What is the difference between icing? ›

Icing is thinner than frosting but not quite as thin as a glaze. Typically made with powdered sugar and liquid, such as water, milk, or juice, icing can be drizzled or spread. Icing has more shine and a smoother consistency than frosting.

What defines icing? ›

In ice hockey, icing is an infraction when a player shoots, bats with the hand or stick or deflects the puck over the center red line and the opposing team's red goal line, in that order, and the puck remains untouched without scoring a goal.

Is royal icing the same as icing? ›

One (Glacé Icing) is made with just two ingredients: powdered sugar + water. The other (Royal Icing) also includes egg whites.
Royal Icing.
Royal IcingSugar/Glacé Icing
PropertiesHard and sturdySofter, more prone to cracking
5 more rows
Nov 23, 2021


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