5. Economic Crunch
Current affairs and ice-cream aren’t natural bed-fellows. True, Ben & Jerry’s renamed one of their flavors “Yes Pecan” in honor of Obama, but I mean, for most people the two don’t mix. Which is probably why this flavor to commemorate the 1987 stock market crash never really took off. Bitter stockbrokers who had lost everything weren’t in the mood to buy topical ice-cream, even one with chocolate covered almonds, pecans and walnuts. Strangely enough, they didn’t reissue it for the 2008 credit crunch!
4. Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies
Just a random one, this. As hippies, music would have been very important to Ben and Jerry (see the famous “Cherry Garcia” flavor that references Jerry Garcia), so I get that they want to do a music-related link up every now and then. Dave Matthews Band just seems like a bit of a random choice! And as hippies, they definitely would have been aware of the connatation of “Magic Brownies”. I assume these are just magic because they taste really good but you never know, with these sneaky hippy types! I’m aamzed they didn’t get into more trouble with the anti-drugs lobbies over this. Leading our impressionable youth astray and all that…
3. Taste the Lin-sanity
This one, meanwhile, created a whole bunch of controversy when it was released in scoop shops last year. It was created in honor of Asian-American basketball player Jeremy Lin and contained lychee honey pieces and fortune cookies. There was instant outrage, with the media branding the company racist, and the fortune crackers were swiftly replaced with waffle cookies. At first, the company said that this was because the fortune cookies got soggy, but they later apologized and said they were “swept up” in the Harvard graduate’s success in the NBA. The flavor was only ever intended to be a Boston scoop-shop release, but it’s not surprising that they didn’t decide to add it to the main range. Despite the controversy, it still sold out at the Harvard branch, so maybe all publicity is good publicity after all?
2. Vermonty Python
Now, this is barely a controversy as controversies go but it was still an unusual choice. Monty Python were a British comedy troupe of the 1970s, who created widespread outrage with their film “Life of Brian”, as Brian portrayed a Christ-like character in first century Galilee. For this and many other reason, they have never been popular with the Christians of Middle America. So naming an ice-cream after them in the US is a pretty bold step, especially with the Python-esque graphics and the “fudge cows” in-joke. In Britain, it would barely have raised an eyebrow but it was never going to be mainstream enough to be widely popular.
1. Schweddy Balls
And at the number one spot, we find an ice-cream that’s both controversial and mildly disgusting. Schweddy Balls caused widespread outrage when it hit stores in 2011. OneMillionMoms, who are affiliated with the American Family Association branded it “vulgar” and “repulsive” and called for a boycott of Ben and Jerry’s as a result. The ice-cream contained fudge-covered rum balls and malt balls, which OneMillionMoms suggested “sexualised” ice-cream.
The problem was – as it often is with these things – that they didn’t get the joke. It came from a Saturday Night Live skit where Alec Baldwin, in the guise of Pete Schweddy tries to pitch his various “balls” – rum balls, cheese balls, popcorn balls – and concludes “No one can resist my Schweddy Balls”. Audiences loved it, and Ben & Jerry’s flavor was simply a tribute to the skit.
Try telling that to outraged Moms though! Though no-one forced them to buy Schweddy Balls, the very notion that it might be available in their local grocery store thoroughly enraged them. Of course, most kids wouldn’t think twice about the name and those who are old enough to get it – i.e. teenagers – would find it funny. Ben & Jerry’s defended themselves by saying that their customers too would get the joke.
The last line has to go to Pete Schweddy creator Alec Baldwin, who said of the dessert: “For a long time, I thought that ‘Here Lies Pete Schweddy’ would end up on my tombstone. Now, thanks to Ben & Jerry’s, the goodness of the Schweddy family recipe won’t go with me to the great beyond. It is immortalized here, right now, and it’s an ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s and Schweddy. Two great names in American dessert, together at last”.
So, if Schweddy Balls are good enough for Pete Schweddy himself, they must be good enough for the American public, hey?