11 Ben & Jerry’s Flavors Inspired by Pop Culture
For almost as long as Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have been dreaming up intriguing ice cream flavor combinations from their home base in Burlington, Vermont, they’ve been forging unique collaborations with icons of pop culture. The world-renowned ice cream pioneers recently introduced their newest partner in flavor-making: Ron Burgundy.
In conjunction with San Diego’s classiest newscaster’s return to the big screen in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Ben & Jerry’s is releasing Scotchy Scotch Scotch, butterscotch ice cream with a butterscotch swirl. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. (In a press release announcing the new flavor, Burgundy noted that “I hope Ben and Jerry consider my other suggestions: malt liquor marshmallow, well liquor bourbon peanut butter, and cheap white wine sherbet.”)
Burgundy and Anchorman are, of course, not the only cultural figures (fictional or otherwise) to be paid tribute in frozen dairy dessert form. Here are 11 other delicious Ben & Jerry’s collaborations.
1. CHERRY GARCIA
Today, rock-and-roll-themed flavors are a hallmark of the Ben & Jerry’s brand. But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, it wasn’t until nine years after the company’s founding that such a product debuted. In 1987, two “Deadheads” from Portland, Maine gave Ben and Jerry the idea to debut a flavor in honor of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. And Cherry Garcia—cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes—was born. (It’s still one of the brand’s most popular flavors.)
In 1996, Ben & Jerry’s debuted a line of sorbets, which were made with pure spring water and organic fruits and flavorings. The pints were fat-free, lactose-free, and cholesterol-free—but they weren’t without a sense of humor. Leading the original sorbet lineup was Doonesberry, named for the popular Doonesbury comic strip.
3. PHISH FOOD
Ben and Jerry paid tribute to fellow Vermonters Phish with what would become one of their most beloved and best-selling creations: Phish Food. Released in early 1997, a percentage of the product’s proceeds were donated toward the environmental restoration of Lake Champlain. The chocolate ice cream with gooey marshmallow, caramel swirls, and fish-shaped fudge pieces comes in a frozen yogurt variety, too.
4. SCHWEDDY BALLS
It takes a serious set of, umm, gall to launch an ice cream with this moniker, based on a famous Saturday Night Live bit with Alec Baldwin. While fans of the sketch comedy show got a chuckle out of the name, advocacy group One Million Moms—and, by extension, grocery store owners—weren’t laughing when the flavor was introduced in 2011. Many chains refused to carry the scandalously named treat, making it hard to come by and, as such, short-lived. Baldwin joked about the controversy when he hosted SNL in September 2011, saying that those offended by the name could try the company’s newest flavor: “Go Fudge Yourself.”
5. STEPHEN COLBERT’S AMERICONE DREAM
“I'm not afraid to say it. Dessert has a well-known liberal agenda,” television host Stephen Colbert noted in a statement to announce the release of his very own ice cream in February of 2007. “What I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case.” The flavor—vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered pieces of waffle cone and bits of caramel—has been selling strongly ever since, with proceeds going to several education-based charities.
6. LATE NIGHT SNACK
Not to be outdone, fellow funnyman Jimmy Fallon released Late Night Snack in March 2011, a salty-sweet Fair Trade combo of vanilla ice cream, salted caramel swirl, and chocolate-covered potato chips. Yes, chocolate-covered potato chips. The collaboration came about in response to “Ladysmith Snack Mambazo,” an original song written and performed by Fallon and The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
7. LIZ LEMON GREEK FROZEN YOGURT
In conjunction with the series finale of 30 Rock, Fallon’s former co-star, Tina Fey (or at least her on-screen alter ego) received a sweet tribute: Liz Lemon Greek Frozen Yogurt, a sweet and sour lemon-flavored frozen yogurt with a blueberry lavender swirl. Part of the proceeds went to Jumpstart, an early education organization helping to instill a love of reading in kids in low-income neighborhoods, a cause of which Fey has been a longtime supporter.
More than two years after Seinfeld made its television bow, Ben & Jerry’s celebrated the series’ holiday for the rest of us with this brown sugar and cinnamon ice cream swirled with chunks of gingerbread cookie and ginger caramel. The flavor—which flavor developer Rob Douglas declared “kicks fruitcakes’ ass!”—was in freezers for one year only.
9. VERMONTY PYTHON
Ben and Jerry’s ode to Britain’s most famous comedy troupe—a coffee liqueur-flavored ice cream with chocolate chunks and chocolate cookie crumbs—made its debut in 2006 and silly-walked off shelves three years later.
10. GOODBYE YELLOW BRICKLE ROAD
In 2008, Elton John performed his first-ever concert in Vermont. So Ben & Jerry’s, naturally, commemorated the event with a limited-batch flavor: Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road, which the company described as “an outrageous symphony of decadent chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle, and white chocolate chunks.” Proceeds from the treat, which was made available in Vermont scoop shops for one week only, benefitted the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
11. WAVY GRAVY
Wavy Gravy—a caramel-cashew-Brazil nut concoction with roasted almonds and a chocolate hazelnut fudge swirl—spent a decade in grocery store freezers before it was discontinued in 2003. Named for the charismatic activist and entertainer who helped to organize Woodstock, proceeds from the pints went to Camp Winnarainbow, Gravy’s summer getaway for underprivileged kids. “I got dumped,” Gravy told Vanity Fair in 2011 of his flavor’s demise. “Poor Ben and Jerry were mortified. They were purchased by this big Dutch corporation called Unilever. And I was dumped for not being cost-effective. Mrs. Gravy said, ‘I knew you weren’t cost-effective all along.’”
All images courtesy of Ben & Jerry's.