A few months ago (or decades in COVID time), a brewery in Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware announced that it had created an IPA in honor of the president-elect—even though he doesn’t drink alcohol. He is, however, an ice cream fiend, and it seemed—to us anyway—a finer tribute for someone to make him his own ice cream flavor. It turned out the Cornell Dairy already did this back in 2017 when Biden was the university’s commencement speaker. (Big Red, White, and Biden is an old-fashioned vanilla chocolate chip, Joe’s favorite flavor.) So I guess what we really mean is, “his own ice cream flavor available outside Ithaca, New York.”
Now, just a few weeks before his inauguration, Biden’s favorite ice cream brand, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, has come through. People magazine reports: “As a tribute to Biden’s go-to order of a double scoop of chocolate chip in a waffle cone, Jeni’s has created ‘White House Chocolate Chip’ which includes crunch chocolate flakes and chocolate-covered waffle cone pieces in a vanilla ice cream, according to a press release.”
The ice cream was supposed to go on sale online today and in Jeni’s scoop shops next Thursday, January 14, but Jeni’s announced on Wednesday that it was going to postpone the launch after the riots at the Capitol. Jeni’s had always maintained that White House Chocolate Chip was not about politics: “it’s about the power ice cream has in bringing us together.”
This seems kind of disingenuous, the New Yorker food writer Helen Rosner pointed out on Twitter yesterday, when Donald Trump supporters literally rioted to prevent the certification of Biden’s election in Congress because their leader told them in a rally less than an hour earlier that the election had been “stolen” from him. By creating a flavor called White House Chocolate Chip in Biden’s honor, Jeni’s is in effect asserting that Biden won the election and belongs in the White House. If an ice cream inspired by the future president of the United States isn’t political, what is? (Note: “political” doesn’t necessarily have to be a synonym for “controversial.” Except when certain people make it that way.)
A Jeni’s marketing rep stepped into the Twitter fray in an attempt to defend his brand, but Rosner wasn’t having it. “This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this kind of messaging come from your brand,” she wrote. “What’s remarkable is that all the brand’s *actions* point to remarkable political consciousness and engagement, but for some reason there seems to be a need to assert a lack of politics.”
Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry’s also took to Twitter yesterday to comment on Wednesday’s events, and it did not mince words.
“Yesterday was not a protest,” it began. “It was a riot to uphold white supremacy.”
The thread continued: “We saw two Americas yesterday. In one America we saw record voter turnout driven by Black voters that resulted in the election of the first Black and first Jewish senators from the state of Georgia—our democracy at its best. In the second America we saw a mostly white mob, encouraged by the president, violently invade the seat of our democracy in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election. It was a failed coup—our democracy in peril. Both of these Americas are us.”
These tweets also received pushback from people who believe that ice cream has no place in world affairs. “Stick to making ice cream that a lot of people will no longer buy,” one person wrote. Another added: “This is divisive twaddle which will only make the problems of the last four years worst [sic]. But I think you know that...” There was promotion of the false equivalence between last summer’s BLM protests and Wednesday’s mob.
But Ben & Jerry’s stands by what it said (as well as its ice cream flavors in honor of Colin Kaepernick and the 2020 election). And that is one reason why we love it. The other is the actual ice cream.