Bug stories: a Pontiac is allergic to ice cream

Bugs are a pleasure to read about – until you have them yourself, of course. But I couldn’t stop laughing after I read about this one: each time a man went to fetch vanilla ice cream, his car (a brand new Pontiac) failed to start. But whenever he picked up another flavor, there was no issue. Whatsoever.

Can a Pontiac (the car, you know?) be allergic to vanilla icecream? That’s certainly the question the GM people must have thought about when they received a letter from one of their customers.

The man, we lost his name to history, told them that his family liked to eat ice cream. So much so, that each evening the entire family decided which flavor to take. The father would then get into his car and drive to a shop to buy that particular flavor.

Each time his family chose vanilla, the car failed to start when he returned. Whenever they took any other flavor, the car started okay.

The engineers expected a joke, so they ignored it, but the guy kept writing to them (they didn’t yet have e-mail at the time) and finally they decided to send out an engineer.

When he met the family, the engineer was surprised to discover the father had studied, earned a reasonable amount of money and all of his children studied. So, they went off to the shop and bought a box of vanilla ice cream.

And sure enough, as if planned, the car refused to start. The engineer checked the car, found nothing wrong and finally succeeded to restart the car.

The next time, just to be on the safe side, the engineer asked the father to buy another flavor of ice cream. When they came back to the car, the car started normal.

They kept doing that for a number of times. Every time they bought vanilla ice cream, the car stalled. With any other flavor, there was no issue. So… Could a car be allergic to vanilla?


Of course not. So he looked at what truly happened. He quickly discovered there was a difference. All the flavors of ice cream stood in the back of the shop, except vanilla. That they found in front. It took them longer to get the other flavors than it took them to get vanilla.

And there was something else. The Pontiac possessed a gas dampener. Each time the motor started an was switched off again, it took a few minutes before the car could be started again. This was a safety to make sure the car couldn’t get overheated. Since it took our driver less time to fetch his vanilla, the gas dampener was still activated by the time he returned – hence the issue with his car. They solved it quickly and the entire Pontiac fleet had to be recalled.

Beautiful story

While there are a lot of beautiful bug stories out there (I’m sure we tell another one soon enough), this bug-story never happened. Actually, the story goes around since the seventies of the former century and arises once in a while. But sadly enough, it’s fake news.

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