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The small dustup over Ben and Jerry’s Linsanity flavor

Ben and Jerry’s has been down this road before. They probably have a handbook for these events, teams of pr people that practice and an insurance policy for bad ice cream ideas. Once, they created a flavor in the United Kingdom called Black and Tan. In the US Black and Tan is an order in a bar. In Ireland it was the name of a hated paramilitary unit. Oops. So they got the Chevy Nova Award for Cultural Ignorance. It was an uninformed mistake and innocent.

B&J usually gets lots of free press from sympathetic reporters but this time the Politically Correct Identity Squad came after them. They made a flavor in honor of Jeremy Lin and included fortune cookies in the flavor. Jennifer 8 Lee, formerly of the New York Times wrote a book about Chinese food in the US called The Fortune Cookies Chronicles. She advanced the idea that fortune cookies may have been invented by the Japanese and are unknown in China. Every ice cream maker in the world has toyed with the idea of using fortune cookies as a mix-in or inclusion, which is the technical name for all those brownies and pieces of cookie dough put into ice cream.

There are several problems including the relatively inedible fortune itself, and the fact that the cookies don’t stand up very well to the surrounding ice cream. Fortune cookies in ice cram is not a good idea. Someday a molecular genius of a pastry chef will make a perfect fortune cookie ice cream but it is not going to come from an ice cream factory in Vermont owned by Unilever.

The story of Jeremy Lin is wonderful but shot through with America’s confusing ideas about race and ethnicity. If Jeremy’s mother had made the ice cream it would have been charming. If Jeremy had conceived the flavor and presented it with a dollop of irony people would have liked it. But Ben and Jerry have been run over by their zealot friends. The company has the good sense to pick itself up and apologize. They removed the fortune cookies. They are now promoting a new line of Frozen Greek Yogurt flavors.

1 Comment so far

  • You’re certainly entitled to your opinion but you’re wrong.

    Especially since “fortune cookie” was an insult hurled at Lin during his Harvard days.

    Would B&J have used watermelon for their Obama flavor?

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