Back on 04/16/15 I post an article titled “Do you like your ice cream in a cone or a pint glass?” about the collaboration between Ben & Jerry’s and New Belgium Brewing on a new beer flavor. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as USA Today posted a piece about how various watchdog groups are calling-out Ben & Jerry’s for encouraging alcohol consumption in children. The CEO of Alcohol Justice said “It’s a crass, corporate greedy move to put a brand name like Ben & Jerry’s on a beer,… It’s bad for children — who will start looking at beer as the next step after ice cream.”. The USA Today article even says that Ben & Jerry’s is ” taking some heat for plans to put its kid-friendly name — and image — on a craft beer.”.
I’m not even sure where to start with this one, but how about this: Why is ice cream a kid-specific product? I know plenty of adults that eat ice cream. I would bet that more Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is consumed by adults than children. We’re not talking about Hasbro joining forces with Ithica Beer Co. to make a Play-Doh flavored Imperial Red. Maybe Nerf has a “Super Soaker Session Ale” in the works that they should be up-in-arms about, but that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Ice Cream is not an age specific product any more than bicycles, juice or sneakers. Come to think of it, an Ocean Spray Cranberry Sour Ale could be delightful…
Another concern they raise is that the name and packaging are “kid-friendly”, and by default the beer is being “marketed to children”. As it turns out, Ben & Jerry’s has never been concerned with “kid-friendly” packaging or names. This is the company that had a flavor called “Schweddy Balls“, named after a Saturday Night Live skit centered around a sweaty testicles joke. Then there is the popular “Karamel Sutra“, named after a book of graphic sexual positions. I’m sure fans of the movie Anchorman will recall their “Scotchy Scotch Scotch” flavor, named after main character Ron Burgundy’s love of, you guessed it, scotch! (as in hard liquor, booze, alcohol). Where was the watchdog groups outcry on that one!
Even if the packaging were deemed “kid-friendly”, who cares? When children are really even seeing it? Are there a bunch of kids roaming around liquor stores being influenced by it? If so, those children have bigger issues than the appeal of the packaging. Is some random 8 year old going to see this Ben & Jerry’s beer at a supermarket while shopping with their parents and bring it up to the counter to purchase it? It’s the equivalent of being mad at a casino if they had a Pokemon themed slot machine on the casino floor. It can’t be a bad influence on kids if kids never see it.
The final argument is that putting a brand name like Ben & Jerry’s on a beer will be “bad for children, who will start looking at beer as the next step after ice cream.”. So let me understand this, when a kid turns 21 they might progress from ice cream to drinking beer? That sounds like a pretty good life plan to me.