Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday December 2, 2021
Sweet vindication for Chapman’s Ice Cream
If you have the good fortune to visit Markdale, Ont., you will appreciate just how different Grey County is when compared to Ontario’s hectic urban environment overall. It’s a slower, gentle, more tranquil pace and place.
How odd, then, that the community — home to the admirably benevolent Chapman’s Ice Cream, purveyor of soothing frozen treats since 1973 — has emerged as an unlikely, though certainly flavourful, flashpoint of the COVID-19 civil war.
The family-run Chapman’s, one of Canada’s largest ice-cream producers, an employer of about 850 people, recently took the praiseworthy step of rewarding its vaccinated workers with a $1-an-hour pay raise.
This was not the first time the company had supported the local community in the battle against COVID-19.
At the end of 2020, when it became known that the first vaccines developed against coronavirus required sub-zero storage, Chapman’s was quick to offer up two medical-grade deep freezers.
It turns out the Markdale mainstay — which has donated millions of dollars to local hospitals, schools and sports facilities — had been approached decades earlier about emergency use of its cold-storage facilities in case of a public-health emergency and it was more than ready when the call came.
And grit? You want to see grit?
In 2009, the company’s century-old wooden creamery building was destroyed after a spark from welding work caught in the rafters.
Where some might have called it quits, Chapman’s built back, recovered and expanded to employ about twice the workers it once did.
This is not an age, however, in which decades of reputation, generosity, local history or context won’t be incinerated in a firestorm of toxic online recrimination.
After the raise became public, when a photo of the bulletin announcing it was posted online, Chapman’s became the target of chronically aggrieved anti-vaccine groups who were outraged at the very thought.
Local divisions of the small and tattered anti-vax army were inflamed at this outrageous assault by Chapman’s on their right to be fools and mounted an online campaign to boycott the company’s products.
The company said it received 1,000 or more emails and attacks on its Facebook group. Much of it was despicable. Inevitably, absurd analogies to Naziism were tossed about.
But, in addition to being rather stoutly anti-science, it appears the anti-vaxxers have no particular flair for numeracy or imagination.
A quick glance at public-opinion surveys or published vaccination rates should have made clear that in the boycott battle they would be hugely outnumbered and were charging off to near-certain defeat.
At Chapman’s itself, fewer than a dozen employees had chosen to remain unvaccinated and been required to go on unpaid leave.
Well, the entirely predictable result soon came to pass.
Voices of reason pushed back, lavishly praising and thanking the company, which saw sales jump and inquiries arrive from far and wide as to where its ice cream could be purchased.
The hashtag #IStandWithChapmans became the call to arms, and seldom was such a thing so delicious.
On its website, Chapman’s is now promoting its “Holiday Moments Collection,” urging the sweet-toothed to “Enjoy a taste of the holiday in each and every bite.”
So, let’s add a tip of the old double-scoop ice-cream cone — waffle, if you please — to Chapman’s for its good corporate citizenship, community-minded initiatives and delightful products.
Long may you prosper. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)