Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has galvanized widespread support in his campaign for the presidency, and one of the world’s premier ice-cream producers has taken notice. Ben Cohen—co-founder of the beloved Ben & Jerry’s—has created a new Sanders-inspired flavor that’s independent of his traditional brand.
Called “Bernie’s Yearning,” the new flavor includes a politically inspired design in which a top layer of solid chocolate covers mint ice cream. As Cohen explains, the chocolate roof represents, “the huge majority of economic gains that have gone to the top 1 percent since the end of the recession. Beneath it, the rest of us.”
And in a fitting homage to Sanders’ preference for economic redistribution, Cohen suggests that consumers eat the ice cream by allowing it to soften, breaking up the chocolate on top and then mixing it in with the mint ice cream below.
“It’s a participatory flavor,” Cohen explained to the Los Angeles Times. “Participatory—meaning that you’re supposed to do something with the food. You could call it play with your food. It’s kind of like some of these yogurt-and-granola things—you take the granola, shove it in the yogurt and mix it around.
“You can determine how big you want the chocolate chunks to be in Bernie’s Yearning. You can smash it around a lot or a little. When I was a little kid I was always taking candy and cookies and smashing them and mooshing them around in ice cream. It seemed natural to me. That was sort of the inspiration for Ben & Jerry’s.”
Rather than adopting the traditional Ben & Jerry’s branding, the product is simply labeled “Ben’s Best.”
The new flavor won’t be made available to the public at large due to a non-compete clause with Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever. Instead, Cohen produced a limited-edition batch of just 40 pints, according to People Magazine, and he’ll be donating 25 units to Sanders’ campaign while making the remainder available to randomly picked supporters who sign up on the campaign’s website.
Cohen had originally hoped to use the new flavor in fundraising efforts for Sanders.
“My original idea was to make it independently of Bernie’s campaign and auction it off on eBay to raise money for Bernie,” he told the Times. “But it turned out that there’s laws that prevent you from doing that. And also, auctioning it off means it would have gone to the highest bidder, and that would have been a person with a lot of money, and that would have been un-Bernie-like.”
At the moment, few have actually partaken in the icy treat. Even Sanders has yet to try it.
“Actually, nobody except me and my girlfriend have tried the ice cream,” Cohen added. “Wait, there was the guy who made the video. I gave him some of the leftovers.”
Desserts aside, Cohen is obviously a strong Sanders supporter, and he’s optimistic about his chances. Asked if he believed Sanders had a legitimate chance in the election, Cohen was unequivocally hopeful.
“Absolutely, yeah,” he said. “I’m in Iowa here and you can really ‘feel the Bern’ here. The reality of the situation is that there is a very large majority of Americans who agree with what Bernie is proposing and saying. But they think he won’t get elected, so they aren’t going to help him campaign or make posters or anything. It’s such a self-defeating point of view. The reality is that if everyone who agrees with what he’s saying would help him get elected, he’d get elected.”
In advance of the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, Sanders has gained considerable ground on national Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. He holds a sizable lead in New Hampshire and has turned Iowa into a remarkable tight race.
A self-described “Democratic Socialist,” some mainstream analysts have dismissed Sanders as being too left-leaning. But that doesn’t seem to have dulled his undeniable momentum, particularly among younger voters interested in fundamental changes to a U.S. financial and economic system that’s witnessed stagnant wages and a widening wealth gap in recent decades.