He was responsible for months of free ice cream for Las Vegas visitors
In the mid-1960s Hughes traveled to Las Vegas in a private railroad car and took up residence at the Desert Inn, which he would eventually purchase outright to avoid being asked to leave. When the light of the neon sign for the Silver Slipper next door penetrated into his eighth-floor enclave at night, he purchased that casino and removed the sign.
Over the course of the next few years, he purchased several casinos, envisioning Las Vegas as a destination for glamorous high-rollers, and added local television stations to his holdings to help promote his vision. He also developed a taste for ice cream.
Not just any ice cream, but Baskin-Robbins Banana Nut ice cream. Rather than going out to purchase individual servings, or even gallons whenever the boss wanted to indulge his taste for Banana Nut, his staff decided to take the understandable step of laying in a supply in the Desert Inn’s freezers.
It was then that the staff learned that Baskin-Robbins had discontinued the flavor and after existing store stocks were exhausted there would be no more Banana Nut. Negotiations were opened for a special order, and a supply of 350 gallons of Banana Nut was prepared in and shipped from nearby Los Angeles. The staff was pleased to be ready to support their boss’s whim whenever he decided he wanted a serving of Banana Nut ice cream.
They were not prepared for their boss’s pronouncement that he was tired of Banana Nut and henceforth would prefer French Vanilla as his ice cream of choice. While the expense was incidental to someone like Hughes, the disposal of 350 gallons of ice cream was not. The Desert Inn tried to sell the supply but found that it was not popular with its clients. The Hughes staff wanted nothing to do with the ice cream, nor did Baskin-Robbins. Finally, the Desert Inn decided to simply give it away to customers in the hotel and casino. It took almost a year to get rid of the ice cream and according to a Hughes staffer speaking in 1996, they never did get rid of all of the Banana Nut.