Ben & Jerry’s are almost as well known for their unique ice cream recipes as they are for the names they give their frozen treats. While most of the names are merely whimsical and catchy, like Chubby Hubby, Karamel Sutra and Hazed and Confused, over the years their ice cream names have paid tribute to pop culture characters and events, musicians, sitcom plots and charitable causes.
While some of the concoctions only lasted a few months, others have lingered for years. Nothing personal in what flavors make the cut; it’s all about the money. Ben & Jerry’s may present a laid-back image but they didn’t become multi-millionaires by ignoring the bottom line. Here is our list of 10 of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors named after famous figures.
Jerry Garcia’s Cherry Garcia
Nine years after Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978, two Dead Heads (fans of the band The Graetful Dead) sent them a lid from one of their pint cartons suggesting they develop a flavor in honor of renowned rock musician Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead and call it Cherry Garcia. It was the first ice cream flavor ever named after a rock star and 27 years later, it still tops the company’s bestseller list. Since chocolate covered cherries have been cherished since our great grandparents were pups, combining cherry ice cream with chunks of dark chocolate and plump pale purple cherries was destined to be a winner.
When Seinfeld was in the home stretch of its ninth and final season in 1997, an episode called The Strike introduced a December 23 holiday called Festivus. One of the series scriptwriter’s family’s allegedly “invented” the special non-denominational day for people who were perturbed by the pressure and commercialism of Christmas. Ben & Jerry’s tribute ice cream was brown sugar-cinnamon ice cream studded with chunks of gingerbread cookies and swirled with a ginger-infused caramel sauce. Alas, the TV episode was more memorable than the frozen treat and Festivus was unceremoniously buried in the Ben & Jerry’s graveyard just a year after its birth.
Vermont & Monty Python’s VerMonty Python
Monty Python and the Holy Grail was one of the first bona fide cult movies. It featured the best and brightest from the popular 70s show Monty Python‘s Flying Circus and was so enjoyed by Ben & Jerry’s that they created VerMonty Python ice cream, incorporating their home state of Vermont in the recipe name. However, the blend of coffee liqueur based ice cream, chocolate cookie crumbs and chocolate chunks shaped like cows (Python fans will get the connection) proved to be less than spectacular and the flavor was sent off to the ice cream flavor bone yard in 2008, just two years after its launch.
Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road
In 2008, Ben & Jerry’s got wind of Elton John‘s plans to perform for the first time ever in Vermont, the only US state the rock idol had never played in. They concocted a flavor to honor Sir John that would pay tribute to his outrageous costumes as well as honor his unfathomable talents that spanned decades. They called it Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road, a play on his hit song and album titled Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The recipe included a multitude of indulgent ingredients including rich chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle candy and chunks of white chocolate. Although the flavor was a hit and the proceeds from sales boosted the coffers of John’s AIDS foundation, the flavor had a limited run and was discontinued.
Ron Burgendy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch
Ron Burgundy uttered the line, “I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly,” in 2008 in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. When Anchorman 2 was released in 2013, Ben & Jerry’s wasted no time in developing a flavor that honored the success of the Anchorman series. While they couldn’t make an ice cream with real Scotch whiskey (not only for legal reasons but because hard liquor is not freezable to a solid state), the ice cream gurus came up with a butterscotch ice cream with giant ribbon of butterscotch sauce flecked with pieces of hard butterscotch candy. It’s widely available in Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops but sometimes hard to find in supermarkets.
Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream
In 2007 when Stephen Colbert was at the height of promoting his persona of a flag-waving conservative on his TV show The Colbert Report, he went to Ben & Jerry’s and asked them to come up with a special ice cream recipe that reeked of overt patriotism. Since combining red, white and blue into a tasty ice cream mixture is more daunting than it seems, Ben & Jerry’s creative team incorporated the word “cone” into the name and added the word “dream” to underscore the patriotic theme. The flavor has a vanilla ice cream base, a generous swirl of caramel, and chunks of fudge-covered waffle cone distributed throughout. Now that Colbert has been tapped to replace Letterman when he retires at the end of 2014, perhaps a new flavor is in the works.
Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Snack
Jimmy Fallon got his Ben & Jerry’s signature ice cream in 2012 after singing a tribute on his show to the joy of snacking on the decadent treat. Ben & Jerry’s offered to develop a recipe for him but were flummoxed when Fallon wanted potato chips in his special blend. They’d tried that ingredient before, with no success. However, their crack team kept at it and finally came up with a potato chip cluster that retained its crispness. They coated the clusters with fudge, folded them into vanilla bean ice cream, stirred in a thick ribbon of salty caramel, and Late Night Snack ice cream was born.
Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian Raspberry
Freddie Mercury and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody shook up the music world with the power and drama of symphony-gone-rock. Ben and Jerry’s UK division paid homage to the late Mercury in 2007 with their introduction of Bohemian Raspberry ice cream. The rich chocolate taste of fudge brownie chunks mixed with creamy vanilla ice cream is accented by a viscous ribbon of raspberry. The mascot cow on the carton sports a crown for this flavor and is belting out the song’s famous refrain of “Galileo! Galileo!”
Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon
Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first premium ice cream makers to market frozen Greek yogurt and their first flavor linked to a celebrity was Liz Lemon, introduced in 2013. The character epitomized by Tina Fey on the TV comedy 30 Rock inspired a recipe with a lemon yogurt base infused with a fragrant lavender and blueberry swirl, the perfect balance of tart and sweet embodied by long suffering Liz Lemon. Profits from Liz Lemon sales are donated to Jumpstart, a national early education organization that serves preschool children in low-income neighbourhoods.
Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler
Besides his seductive crooning and love of pot, country legend Willie Nelson is famous for joining forces with Neil Young and John Mellencamp in organizing the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to increase awareness of the loss of American family farms and raise money to help struggling families retain their land and crops. Ben & Jerry’s, longstanding supporters of family farms throughout New England where their ice cream kingdom was founded in Vermont, wanted to develop a tie-in flavor to raise money for Farm Aid. Nelson thought peaches were the perfect down-home fruit for the recipe. Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler ice cream has chunks of peaches mixed with cinnamon-sugar coated shortbread morsels and swirled with a band of sweet peach puree.