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‘He Liked His Ice Cream': Al Pacino Talks Hoffa’s Strange Affinity in ‘The Irishman’

“Ice cream was a pause in his life where he could think and just sit with it,” Pacino says in an interview with Entertainment Weekly

I scream, you scream, Al Pacino screams for ice cream — at least he does when he’s playing Jimmy Hoffa in “The Irishman.”

In the Martin Scorsese-directed Netflix film that also stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, Pacino’s labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa gobbles down three ice cream sundaes throughout the course of the film.

The internet has been abuzz with questions as to Hoffa’s obsession with ice cream. Why so many sundaes? And did the real Hoffa, who was known to live an extremely healthy lifestyle, really love ice cream that much?

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Pacino shook a few sprinkles on the subject.

“You got to have something,” Pacino told EW. “He wasn’t a drinker, wasn’t a smoker. He liked his ice cream. Ice cream was a pause in his life where he could think and just sit with it — at least, that’s the way I thought of it.”

Not that Pacino had an issue with eating all that frozen goodness, because he really didn’t.

“I never get sick of ice cream sundaes,” he said. “I love them too much. I think they used some kind of yogurt. But I preferred the ice cream.”

Slate did a deep dive into the truth behind the real Hoffa’s affinity for the cold dessert. Their search turned up a few examples that corroborate the film’s excessive coverage of the consumption of sundaes.

They cite a 1991 Chicago Tribune article in which Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, said her father would take the family to the movies, and ice cream was always a part of the outting. “We’d pack a bunch of kids in the car, friends and cousins, and Mom would stay home,” she said. “We’d stop and get ice cream on the way back, at the Jim Dandy Dairy — it was a tradition.”

An excerpt from the book on which “The Irishman” is based, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” describes a scene where Frank Sheeran, played by De Niro in the movie, claims to have visited Hoffa in prison where they ate a lunch of spaghetti and meatballs. Sheeran says, “Jimmy loved spaghetti and meatballs. I would give Jimmy my meatballs for a treat. Jimmy loved ice cream, too.”

And Hoffa’s love of ice cream is documented historically other places as well. Slate also dug up a 1994 column in the St. Petersburg Times that said the former mob lawyer Frank Ragano told the crowd at a signing of his tell-all book, “Jimmy Hoffa was the cleanest man who ever lived. He never had a drink of liquor in his life. He never had coffee in his life. He didn’t smoke cigarettes. He didn’t womanize.” The St. Petersburg Times goes on to add, “[Ragano] recalls a Saturday night in Chicago when Hoffa brought a group of high-living men to a soda shop for chocolate ice cream.”

So there you have it. We may never know whether or not Hoffa ever actually ate as much ice cream as Pacino does in the film — but it’s clear that he did indeed like it.