food fights

Ben & Jerry’s Gay Marriage Backlash Begins


All the Unilever-owned ice cream maker wanted to do was show its support for Vermont’s newly legal same-sex marriage (and drum up major free publicity) by renaming flavor “Chubby Hubby” to “Hubby Hubby,” but now Ben & Jerry’s finds itself being attacked for its marketing advocacy. The world is unjust!

The ice cream label should stick to doing what it does best — providing calorie-heavy comfort food in adorable little containers — rather than enter the fray of politics, argues Oliver Thring, a food writer for Britain’s The Guardian, who returned from vacation to pen this:

Ben & Jerry’s make an excellent product. We like it. So much so, you may remember, that we sent Vicky Frost along to the company to develop a Word of Mouth ice cream flavour a few months back, and much fun was had. The company was founded in the hippest hippy traditions, far-out and right-on, and the takeover by Unilever seems scarcely to have undermined this.

And though I agree with their sentiment, it’s a gloopy business when a company celebrates the election of a president with the flavour ‘Yes Pecan’. In an age when ice cream companies are melting away and reforming as purveyors of frozen yoghurt, is this dinky piece of homespun cheeriness really the best focus of the company’s efforts?

That gay people should be able to get married seems to me a basic human right, and I admit that in a completely partisan way I was tempted to justify B&J’s action as part of the ongoing struggle against ignorance and fear. But what would I be thinking if a contrary point of view was being aired? I’d be first in line to denounce them as squalid influence peddlers, shamelessly meddlesome, shiveringly undemocratic tricksters.

Ice cream should be a relief from side-taking. It soothes and softens, comforts and consoles. B&J’s sentiment is noble, but the side of a half-gallon tub is no place to daub political slogans – it’s a distraction from the guzzling pleasure.

Us? We just think Mr. Thring is jealous of Americans: Chubby Hubby was only briefly available to the Brits, but they’ve gone without since 2002. Grapes, much?