Car and Vanilla Ice Cream

Have you ever heard of a car that wouldn’t start after buying a particular flavor of ice cream? It sounds like a silly problem, but that was exactly what happened to one lucky Ford owner who had a family tradition of sending him to buy ice cream each night. Every time he bought vanilla ice cream, his Ford wouldn’t start, but if he got any other flavor, the car would start just fine. This led to a peculiar question – why was his car “allergic” to vanilla ice cream?

To uncover the truth, Ford asked the owner, Fred, to carefully document his next four nights of buying ice cream. The results were intriguing – when Fred chose vanilla, the car wouldn’t start, but with any other flavor, the car started promptly. So what was the cause of this strange phenomenon?

Ford sent an engineer to the store to investigate further, and the results were surprising. It turned out that vanilla was the most popular flavor, and it was kept in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pick-up. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store, and it took considerably longer to get served. This key difference in time was the root cause of the problem – the extra time needed to get other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start, while the quicker purchase of vanilla kept the engine too hot, causing vapor lock.

The solution was simple – Fred just needed to wait a few extra minutes after shutting off the engine before restarting the car. This allowed the engine to cool down and the vapor lock to dissipate.

This story serves as a valuable lesson about problem-solving. Sometimes, our initial interpretation of the solution to a problem may not make logical sense, and it’s important to search for alternative solutions. In this case, refining and testing the hypothesis, digging deeper, and gathering data were the key to uncovering the truth and solving the problem.

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One thought on “Car and Vanilla Ice Cream

  1. Really good post, Sukhbinder! And I like your procrastination buster linked post too. Laura Vanderkam, a productivity writer, tracks her time too (as does Cal Newport). Have you seen her work? Can’t remember if I have mentioned it to her?

    “People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, But people will never forget how you made them feel.” (- Maya Angelou)

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