Frigid Midget ice cube tray (Dial Industries, Inc.)

Designers have their own dialect. You always hear them using obscure little terms like kerning or serif -- words that the rest of the world mentally files under the heading, "Might come in handy one day while playing Scrabble; otherwise useless." Designers also have this magic catch-phrase, which they love to employ as often as possible: "Less is more." I've always had problems with that one -- it's sort of like saying, "Black is white," or "Ghengis Khan was a nice chap." Yes, I understand the underlying notion that it can sometimes be more rewarding to make do with less, or to have the discipline not to overdo something, but I don't buy it. I mean, in my life, more is more: more food, more money, more beer, more space in my overcrowded apartment -- if it's good, whatever it is, I want more. Doesn't everyone?

Or at least that's what I used to think. I had to revise my thoughts on this matter, however, when an acquaintance recently sent me the Frigid Midget, a plastic ice-cube tray that's about the same size as conventional trays but has many more individual cube molds. So instead of making the standard 14 or 16 ice cubes, the Frigid Midget's six-by-fifteen grid pattern results in a whopping 90 cubes, but each one is really tiny --sure enough, it's both less and more.

Design axioms notwithstanding, there's something oddly satisfying about a bunch of itsy-bitsy ice cubes. For starters, the whole tray feels great when you take it out of the freezer and twist it to release the cubes -- you can feel countless little ice-to-plastic adhesions breaking loose, as if you were cracking an infinite number of knuckles. It's also cool, even festive, to see all the tiny cubes cascading out of the tray when you tip it over -- much better than the dull clunkiness of cubes being dumped out of a conventional tray. Once liberated from the Frigid Midget, the cubes bob merrily in your Coke, water, or whatever, and they're the ideal size for those who like to chew their ice.

Unfortunately, the Frigid Midget's manufacturers haven't seen fit to tout any of these benefits on the product's package. Instead, they waste everyone's time with yawners like, "Odorless" and "Will Not Chip or Break," which apply just as easily to conventional ice trays as they do to the Frigid Midget. If that's really the best they can do, it's no wonder that this product has been spotted recently as a close-out special at several 99-cent stores.

Finally, it's also worth mentioning that unlike most so-called ice "cubes," which actually tend to be somewhat pyramidal, the Frigid Midget's cubes truly are genuine cubes, with six identical square sides. So there you have it: a cube that is a cube -- a comforting bit of straight forward definitional fidelity in a world cluttered with nonsense like "Less is more." (Dial Industries, Inc., 3616 Noakes, LA, CA 90023)