AUGUSTA, Ga. — The loss of the Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich is a travesty, a disappointment, a sad statement of our time … and about a hundred other things, if you believe the Internet commenters.
But the few of us lucky enough to try the Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich know the reality is far worse.
In losing the ice cream sandwich, Augusta National is losing a piece of itself. For a tournament that revels in its tradition, the sandwich — which features a dollop of perfectly sweet peach ice cream between two bakery-soft sugar cookies — has become a tradition of its own.
Without the ice cream sandwich, the Masters simply isn’t the Masters as we have come to know it, and one needn’t go much further than 10 paces inside the behemoth concession stand at Amen Corner to learn as much.
“Oh my goodness, you’re kidding!” One otherwise pleasant woman yelled when she heard the news on Saturday at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“No,” cried another, her eyes failing to compute the reality placed before them. “You’re not serious, right?”
“I can’t believe it,” offered a man wearing an old-school Masters hat. “Those sandwiches are the best thing y’all sell.”
The horror, indeed.
The girl tasked with delivering the message couldn’t have been older than 16, which was perhaps by design. Sixteen-year-olds don’t frequently incite riots.
“I’m sorry, sir,” she said, her voice quivering. “Due to supply chain issues, there are no Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches.”
Of course, the crowd’s indignance didn’t matter. The freezers were gone, and a glance at the menu revealed that it, too, had removed the ice cream sandwich from consideration.
“For the whole tournament?” An inquiring mind wondered.
“Due to supply chain issues,” the girl started again before realizing she’d been asked a different question. “Wait — yes. Sorry!”
It’s difficult to know precisely which link in the supply chain is broken for the Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich, largely because Augusta National keeps such matters tightly under wraps. Some argued it was the rising cost of the Georgia peaches used to make the sandwich’s famous ice cream, while others cast blame upon some of the sandwich’s long-rumored producers.
The truth is that the sandwich has long been one of the most delicate pieces of Masters week. It is the single menu item that requires freezer equipment at each concession stand in order to maintain the ideal temperature. When Augusta National released its “Taste of the Masters” food package, the sandwiches were one of the only major menu items left out, ostensibly because of the logistical difficulty required to produce and ship them.
Still, the implication of the sandwich’s disappearance was perhaps just as surprising as the news itself.
“If Augusta is having supply chain issues,” one Internet commenter wrote. “There’s no hope for the rest of us.”
But at the Masters concessions, change was not restricted to the ice cream aisle. For the second consecutive year, the tournament has added a new food item.
It is called the “Breakfast Sandwich,” and according to workers at the stand next to the 15th green, it replaces the Sausage Biscuit on the Masters breakfast menu.
The Breakfast Sandwich is Augusta National’s riff on a morning classic: the meat-egg-and-cheese sandwich. The Masters version of the sandwich comes on a brioche bun with a fried egg, bacon, a sausage patty and a slice of gooey American cheese.
The sandwich is fairly standard for an offering containing bacon, sausage, egg and cheese; which is to say it is utterly delicious.
“It’s a combination of the sausage biscuit and a bacon, egg and cheese,” one Masters worker said. “So yeah, it’s really good.”
It retails for $3 at Masters concession stands, which makes it one of the most expensive offerings on the tournament menu. Of course, that’s a bit misleading — you could eat two of them for the same cost of the same-ish breakfast sandwich outside the tournament gates — but it is noteworthy. Particularly considering that after two pandemic years, some of the Masters’ historically low concession prices are on the rise.
In 2022, the cost of a cold-cut sandwich (ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, Masters Club and chicken salad) rose from $2.50 to $3. Masters beer prices, which may be the best bargain in professional sports, also saw a slight uptick. A “Domestic Beer” now costs $5, up from $4 last April. With the price adjustment, all three Masters beers (“Domestic,” “Imported” and the Masters’ special-batch “Crow’s Nest”) now cost $5.
Golf fans will be relieved to hear that the Pimento Cheese and Egg Salad sandwiches will remain at their long-standing price of $1.50. (It appears that at least a handful of things in life are inflation-proof.)
So where does that leave us? For one thing, with the reminder that the Masters exists in the real world. Despite all the effort Augusta National expends getting us to believe otherwise, the Masters is susceptible to real-world pressures, affected by real-world developments, and every so often, forced to make real-world sacrifices.
But even if Augusta National is human, don’t expect to recognize that this week. The golf course will be perfect, as it always is. The azaleas will be in full bloom, as they always are. And the green jacket will be awarded, just as it always is.
Change is the way of the world, but Augusta National’s true brilliance is its ability to convince us otherwise. The ice cream sandwich isn’t really a big deal. It just feels that way, because it is an acknowledgment that Augusta National changes, too.
Even without Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches, the Masters will be the Masters. And that’s okay.
Augusta National has never held our changes against us. Perhaps it’s time we extended the same courtesy.