Happy free ice cream cone day!
As Americans flock to Ben & Jerry’s for its 34th annual anniversary ice cream cone giveaway, the scoop they choose for their free cone could say as much about their politics as it does about their taste buds.
The notoriously liberal ice cream company has put out more than a few politically charged flavors in its 34 years. From the pro-gay marriage “Hubby Hubby” to the anti-super PAC “Americone Dream,” the popular pints have been making political statements for decades.
Only once, though, has the company delved into presidential politics. In honor of Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, Ben & Jerry’s launched “Yes Pecan,” a play on Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes We Can,” making Obama the only president in history to have a Ben & Jerry’s flavor created in his honor.
The company described the butter pecan-style flavor as “an Inspirational Blend! Amber Waves of Buttery Ice Cream With Roasted Non-Partisan Pecans.” It was sold only in scoop shops for about a month and all proceeds from the flavor went to charity.
“It was an opportunity for us to recognize a historic moment for our country when Barack Obama was coming in,” Ben & Jerry’s spokesman Sean Greenwood said. “There was so much hype around that election.”
President Ronald Reagan almost got his own flavor, made with jelly beans and “little bits of the Berlin Wall,” Greenwood said. A Calvin Coolidge-inspired pint was also considered because the former president hailed from Vermont, where Ben & Jerry’s got its start in Burlington.
Greenwood said the company shied away from president-inspired flavors because it is “probably a polarizing issue for people.”
But bipartisanship doesn’t seem to be high on the priority list for Ben & Jerry’s, whose co-founders are often outspoken proponents for Democratic candidates and causes.
While Ben & Jerry’s honored Obama’s inauguration with his own “inspirational” ice cream flavor, co-founder Ben Cohen commemorated the end of president George W. Bush’s first term with a 12-foot effigy depicting the president with giant fake flames jutting off his pants.
Cohen took the effigy on a year-long, cross-country “Pants on Fire” tour, to highlight the “lies” he said Bush told during his first term.
“I believe that it’s disrespectful of the president to essentially lead the country based on lies,” Cohen said to the AP during the 2004 election. “If that happens, then I believe it’s actually our patriotic duty to make people aware of it.”
But while Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t been much of a cheerleader for Republican presidents, one conservative commander-in-chief will forever be remembered for being a staunch supporter of the sweet scoops.
Reagan celebrated America’s love for ice cream, and its substantial contribution to the well-being of America’s dairy industry, by declaring July National Ice Cream Month.
“Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over 90 percent of the people in the United States,” Reagan said in his 1984 proclamation. “It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food.”
The current GOP presidential candidates have also showed their support for the sweet treat, making frequent stops at ice cream shops along the campaign trail. “I’m addicted to ice cream,” Rick Santorum admitted in an interview with Glittarazzi while campaigning in Iowa. “Any time I get a chance to go by Le Mars, I go by Le Mars.”
Santorum was the first presidential candidate to visit Blue Bunny’s new ice cream parlor in Le Mars, Iowa, which prides itself as the Ice Cream Capital of the World.
The candidate’s favorite flavor is chocolate. “You cannot produce a dark enough chocolate for me not to like,” he said. “The darkest chocolate ice cream in the world, I just love chocolate and chocolate ice cream.”
Former presidential candidate Herman Cain was ensnared in one of the first blunders of his campaign over his favorite ice cream flavor.
During his October stint at the top of the national polls, Cain responded to skeptics that said he was just another flavor of the month by comparing himself to his “all time favorite” ice cream flavor, Haagen Dazs’ black walnut, which he said “tastes good all the time.”
Unfortunately for Cain, his go-to scoop turned out to be as short-lived as his failed presidential bid.
A Haagen Dazs representative told ABC News that the company pulled the flavor after “the sales nationally did not meet our expectations.”
“It did not behoove us to continue with the product,” Hazel from Haagen Dazs’ customer service line said.
Two months later, as his campaign fizzled amid sexual harassment allegations, Cain characterized his GOP rivals based on which ice cream flavor they would be in an interview with GQ. He pegged Romney as “vanilla,” Rick Perry as “rocky road” and Michele Bachmann as “tutti frutti.”
“I know I’m going to get in trouble,” Cain said of his pick for Bachmann.
Bachmann and Cain were the two of the first three main GOP contenders to drop out of the presidential race.