Ben & Jerry Hold Contest for Candidates

The Washington Post
Tuesday, October 02, 2018

On the rocky road to the midterm elections, two of the world’s most famous ice cream makers are trying to whip up support for Democratic candidates. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s, announced last month that they have teamed up with progressive advocacy group MoveOn to hold a contest to create ice cream flavors for seven candidates running for Congress.

The contest site introduces the public to candidates in seven states: Jess King (Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District); Lauren Underwood (Illinois’ 14th District); Aftab Pureval (Ohio’s 1st District); J. D. Scholten (Iowa’s 4th District); Ammar Campa-Najjar (California’s 50th District); Stephany Rose Spaulding (Colorado’s 5th District); and James Thompson (Kansas’ 4th District).

After reading candidates’ bios, participants are encouraged to come up with a name and flavor for each.

But you won’t be able to buy these ice creams in your local grocery store. Cohen and Greenfield plan to make a small batch of each winning flavor, then raffle it off to support the candidates. The contest is their personal endeavor, the site notes — it is not affiliated with Ben & Jerry’s the company, which Cohen and Greenfield sold to Unilever in 2000.

“Yo, internet!” Ben Cohen tweeted Sept. 21. “We need ur help to come up with 7 amazing flavors for 7 amazing up & coming progressives who could be headed to Congress in Nov. To sweeten the deal, Jerry & I will personally make a small batch of each of the winning flavors.”

Ben & Jerry’s is known for being an outspoken and politically active brand. From its Vermont headquarters, the company has proudly proclaimed its progressive values: racial justice, LGBTQ rights, supporting refugees, climate justice and getting “the dough out of politics,” among other causes. Upon the election of President Donald Trump, the founders wrote him an open letter stating, “We stand with women, people of color, Muslims, migrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, the poor, and others whose lives may be further compromised by the policies and rhetoric you espoused during your campaign.”

In 2011, they dished out free ice cream to Occupy D.C. protesters. In 2016, Cohen and Greenfield were arrested at a Democracy Awakening protest at the Capitol.

They also have a history of naming flavors after Democratic icons, progressive milestones and causes they hold dear. There was Fossil Fuel (studded with chocolaty dinosaurs) and Economic Crunch, which commemorated the 1987 stock market crash.

Limited-edition flavors have included Bernie’s Yearning, a mint-flavored celebration of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential run, and Yes, Pecan, a play on former president Barack Obama’s campaign slogan. The company renamed its chocolate chip cookie dough flavor I Dough, I Dough in 2015 to commemorate the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage, and donated profits from a 2016 Empower Mint ice cream to the NAACP.

Naturally, the company has come under fire from conservatives over the years. After the company posted a message of support for Black Lives Matter, the pro-police group Blue Lives Matter called for a boycott. And the conservative group One Million Moms attempted a boycott in 2011 after the company named a flavor Schweddy Balls, after the Saturday Night Live sketch. (The group called it “vulgar.”)

A write-in contest such as this one is ripe for trolling: You can be sure Cohen and Greenfield are getting plenty of suggestions for flavors of ice cream that contain granola — or nuts.