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The Ice Cream Kid : Taylor Caldwell Wins a Lifetime Supply; When You're 3, That's a Lot

February 03, 1995|MARK SABBATINI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

First prize was the job as CEO of the hugely successful Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. ice cream company.

Second prize was free Ben & Jerry's ice cream for life.

Luckily, Taylor James Caldwell won second. He is only 3 years old and some of his marketing ideas are questionable.

"Dinosaur flavor!" Taylor exclaimed, showing the gap in his front teeth when asked what flavors he would like Ben & Jerry's to sell.

And how do you make dinosaur flavor?

"Gummi bears and chocolate!" Taylor answered.

The first prize in the real-life corporate competition for a chief executive to replace Ben Cohen went to financial executive Robert Holland Jr. He was selected by an executive search firm. Cohen will remain on the company's board of directors.

But the public race for second brought 22,000 entries from ice cream lovers across the nation who sent in their essays on the topic, "Yo! I want to be CEO!" Taylor, of Santa Clarita, was one of three winners of the all-the-ice-cream-you-could-ever-want second prize. (Another was Mark Hyman, a TV reporter from Burbank.)

Taylor seemed more interested in playing inside his blue plastic tunnel in the back yard than commenting on his win. His mother recognized that this could set her son on a course of life with a bulging waistline, but she did not seem too concerned.

"What's an extra 10 pounds when it comes to a lifetime supply of ice cream?" said Taylor's still-thin mother, Dawn. "We can handle it."

Taylor, whose favorite real-life flavor is chocolate chip cookie dough, submitted a photo of himself standing next to a cow. On the reverse side was a plea--written in red, blue and green crayon--that Ben & Jerry's take him and his family away from yuppie urban life.

"Help! I'm stuck with 'Mr. and Mrs. fast track in California' " the essay begins. "Mom is a Nestle marketing director and Dad is a Baxter Healthcare executive. They need new careers and I need a real back yard."

The Caldwells submitted the essay this summer after Taylor's Aunt Amy, who lives in Vermont, told them about the contest.

Taylor's essay was selected by a group of 20 Ben & Jerry's employees from 200 finalists, said Brent Campbell, a company spokesman. Taylor's entry got a near-instantaneous thumbs-up.

"In reading that entry," Campbell said, "a moment was created."

Taylor will receive 150 coupons a year good for free pints of Ben & Jerry's, plus a card that can be used at the company's ice cream parlors.

The freezer at the house was devoid of ice cream Thursday--the three cartons that had been there Wednesday when they got the good news were already gone.

This would be disappointing to those who know the Caldwells.

"Of course, a lot of people started calling us," Dawn Caldwell said, "wondering if family and friends were included.

"Immediate family is, but I'm not sure what immediate family is."

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