Saturday, April 22, 2006

Kiss me, I'm Black and Tan

On April 6, I wrote extolling the virtues of the latest concoction from Ben & Jerry's, called Black and Tan. Sadly, the present state of society has prohibited some people from grasping the obvious, and ignorant of that seemingly elementary trait, have laid into Ben & Jerry's for having the nerve to name an ice cream after a group of soldiers.
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor "Black & Tan" -- the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland's war of independence. "Any reference on our part to the British Army unit was absolutely unintentional and no ill-will was ever intended," said a Ben & Jerry's spokesman. "I can't believe that Ben & Jerry's would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness ... it's an insult!" wrote one blogger on a junk food blog site.
It's not an insult - not even close. It's ice cream that is named after beer, and even tastes a little like beer. There is no mention of your famous militia. I looked, and could not find a single reference to violence on the entire carton, and I even looked under the lid.
Allow me to cloud the issue with facts. The term Black and Tan, relating to beer, dates back to 1889, though an earlier origin of an 18th century blend of porter and pale ale has been conjectured. As for the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force (known as the Black and Tan's), their use of the term dates to 1920. The beer pre-dates the militia by about thirty years.
It is sad that Ben & Jerry's (and their huge corporate father, Unilever) felt the need to apologize for what really amounts to nothing. What amazes me is that the corporate hierarchy felt the need to address this nonsense, rather than allow it to pass into the blogosphere where it belongs.
I cannot imagine a single person, other than an Irish historian, thinking even remotely that this ice cream is some sort of tribute to an obscure British militia that existed almost a hundred years ago.
Perhaps we should launch our own campaign against other products with seemingly offensive names. They are everywhere, and my sensibilities as a consumer may have been irreparably damaged by having to use and ingest products with objectionable labels.
There is a Swedish ice cream called Nogger Black, Vergina Beer, Cock soup, Mini Dickmann's chocolates, Homo sausage and Jussipussi bread.
All of these products are made outside the United States, and one would presume, were meant to be marketed, consumed and sold there as well. Obviously, their names have a different meaning to English ears, and language differences exist. If we allow vagaries in the language to dictate names of products, films and even people, we will be limited to names like 'it', 'that' and 'thing'. I suspect that we would run out of names quickly.
So, lighten up gang. It's ice cream.


kimmyk said...

I have some weird beer in the fridge it's called "black and tan". i haven't seen the ice cream yet....

i love ben and jerry's though-ever have thier chunky monkey? it's good. like sex in milk and sugar. [not that i would know what's that like-yknow..just sayin]

people need to lighten up...and for the record-i dont want no ice cream called homo sausage and c**k soup. Yuk.

Anthony said...

Oh, my dear Kimmyk ... there are no "weird" beers. There is only beer. The extent to which you will drink it describes you, and not the beer as 'weird'. :)

Sex in ice cream, sounds a little cold ... shrinkage, ya know.