Unfortunately for me, I live in the United States and mochi ice cream isn't very widespread here. I used to buy it from a little Asian grocery store in my hometown, but my hometown is now a fourteen-hour drive away and the only Asian grocery near me seemed to be permanently closed the last time I drove past it. So I searched online for the company that makes the mochi ice cream, hoping to buy directly from the source.
Well, not only does the company's website have an option for direct ordering; they also have a store locator, and it just so happened that it identified a Food Emporium in the next town as a seller of their product. I'd lucked out!
Or so it seemed.
I found no mochi ice cream at that Food Emporium. I searched the freezer aisle twice. I asked people. It just wasn't there. Fortunately they did have Cadbury creme eggs and some yummy-looking frozen samosas, so the trip wasn't a total waste of time.
When I got home with my eggs and samosas, I ran upstairs to double-check the website's store locator, thinking maybe I'd managed to write down the address of the wrong Food Emporium. Nope. The address that popped up on my screen was the same one I'd punched into my GPS half an hour earlier.
Out of curiosity, I then entered my old zip code into the locator, the one I had shared with the Asian grocery where I used to get my mochi ice cream.
That search turned up zero matches. I expanded it to include a ten-mile-radius, a fifty-mile-radius, a hundred-mile-radius...nothing, nada, zip. Despite the fact that the mochi-ice-cream-selling Asian grocery was and still is less than two miles from my parents' house.
Then, as I sat scratching my head and wondering if maybe enough people in Kalamazoo somehow buy so damn much mochi ice cream that it's worth the Asian grocery owner's while to bootleg it, a tiny orange SUBMIT button at the bottom corner of the store locator screen caught my eye. I read the message above it:
Help us track them down by entering the address of where you saw them so we can tell others!
Are these people saying they don't know where their product is sold? Are they actually asking their customers to tell them where their own product is sold so they can tell their customers where their product is sold?
That's some major Catch-22 malarkey right there.
I mean, how does this even happen? How can a company not know where the stuff that they manufacture and sell is going? Unless they just dump big crates of it at the docks in New York and LA and let back-alley dealers sell it like heroin, they must have some sort of distribution department that keeps track of shipments and orders.
They must also staff this department with former CIA agents who compulsively redact everything they write down. I can't think of any other reason an actual legitimate business would ask complete strangers on the Internet which stores sell their stuff. Congratulations, Nameless Mochi Ice Cream Purveyor. I won't reveal your identity because I'm nice like that, but I would like you to know that you have officially broken my brain.
An injury made more painful by the lack of delicious mochi ice cream. Which I'm frankly reluctant to order from you because I'm afraid that you'll try to get it to me by asking Internet strangers how to find my house.