Troubling Truths About Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has long been a beloved treat, known for its creative flavors and quirky brand identity. However, beneath the sweet exterior lies a history of controversies that have left many questioning the company’s values and practices. From bold political statements to allegations of exploiting migrant children, the iconic ice cream brand has found itself at the center of numerous scandals in recent years.

1. Controversial Fourth of July Tweet

On Independence Day 2023, Ben & Jerry’s sparked outrage with a tweet claiming that the United States “exists on stolen Indigenous land” and calling for the return of this land, starting with Mount Rushmore. The bold statement received mixed responses, with many accusing the company of going “woke” and urging boycotts of the brand.

Critics, including country singer John Rich, were vocal in their opposition to Ben & Jerry’s stance. One Twitter user even described the company as “the Bud Light of ice cream,” referencing the recent backlash faced by Bud Light after their partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

The controversial tweet is just one example of Ben & Jerry’s willingness to take strong political stances, even at the risk of alienating some customers. While some applaud the company for its activism, others argue that an ice cream brand should focus on sweet treats rather than divisive issues.

2. Stance on Ukrainian Weapons

Ben Cohen, one of Ben & Jerry’s co-founders, recently made headlines for his opposition to the United States providing military aid to Ukraine. Cohen donated over $1 million to a group urging an end to US military support, arguing that the US should instead use its power to negotiate an end to the war.

This stance led to further accusations of the company being “woke” and even “fascist.” Critics argue that by opposing military aid to Ukraine, Ben & Jerry’s is effectively siding with Russia and its aggressive actions.

While Cohen’s actions were not directly tied to the company, his status as a co-founder means that his views are often associated with the brand. This controversy highlights the challenges faced by companies when their leaders take strong political stances that may not align with the views of all their customers.

3. Pulling Out of Palestinian Territories

In 2021, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would no longer sell its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory after 2022, citing concerns raised by a group called Vermonters for Justice in Palestine. This decision was seen as a rebuke of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and drew intense fury from Israelis, including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While the company stated that it would remain in Israel through a different business arrangement, the move was still seen as a bold political statement. Critics accused Ben & Jerry’s of antisemitism and called for boycotts of the brand, while supporters praised the company for taking a stand against human rights abuses.

The controversy surrounding Ben & Jerry’s decision to pull out of the Palestinian territories highlights the complex and often contentious nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also raises questions about the role of businesses in taking political stances and the potential consequences of doing so.

4. Allegations of Profiting from Migrant Child Labor

In 2023, Ben & Jerry’s found itself embroiled in a disturbing scandal when The New York Times accused the company of being one of many brands profiting from the exploitation of migrant children in the United States. The article alleged that some of Ben & Jerry’s suppliers were using child labor, with migrant children working long hours in dangerous conditions.

Ben & Jerry’s responded to the allegations by stating that it does not tolerate any suppliers who are not adhering to the law and that it stands in strong opposition to child labor. However, the scandal raised serious questions about the company’s supply chain and its commitment to ethical practices.

The use of child labor is a grave human rights violation, and the idea that a beloved brand like Ben & Jerry’s may have been profiting from such practices is deeply disturbing. While the company denies the allegations, the scandal has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many consumers.

5. Support for Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Rights

Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of supporting progressive causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ+ rights. While many applaud the company for using its platform to advocate for social justice, others argue that an ice cream brand should stay out of politics altogether.

Critics accuse Ben & Jerry’s of virtue signaling and pandering to liberal audiences, while supporters argue that the company is simply living up to its stated mission of “eliminating injustices in our communities.” Regardless of one’s personal views, it’s clear that Ben & Jerry’s activism has become a defining feature of the brand.

The controversy surrounding Ben & Jerry’s support for progressive causes highlights the challenges faced by companies that choose to take strong political stances. While some customers may appreciate a brand that aligns with their values, others may feel alienated or even offended by such activism.

6. Co-Founders Arrested at Democracy Awakening Protest

In 2016, Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were arrested while participating in a Democracy Awakening protest in Washington, D.C. The two were demonstrating in support of campaign finance reform and voting rights, issues that they believe are essential to a functioning democracy.

While some praised Cohen and Greenfield for their commitment to their beliefs, others criticized them for using their company’s platform to promote their personal political views. The incident raised questions about the role of business leaders in political activism and the potential risks and rewards of taking such stances.

7. Playful Company Culture and Activist History

Despite the controversies that have surrounded Ben & Jerry’s in recent years, the company is also known for its playful, activist-oriented company culture and history. From poking fun at rival Häagen-Dazs for downsizing their pints to drawing the line when porn producers tried to use their flavors as inspiration for adult films, Ben & Jerry’s has a reputation for being a quirky, boundary-pushing brand.

This playful spirit is often intertwined with the company’s commitment to social and political activism. Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of supporting progressive causes, from environmental protection to racial justice, and the company’s founders have never shied away from using their platform to advocate for change.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream may be a beloved treat, but the company’s history of controversies and political activism has left a complex legacy. From taking bold stances on divisive issues to facing allegations of unethical practices, the iconic brand has found itself at the center of numerous scandals in recent years. While some may argue that an ice cream company has no business getting involved in politics, others applaud Ben & Jerry’s for its commitment to social justice and willingness to take risks. Ultimately, whether one views the company’s activism as admirable or ill-advised, there’s no denying that Ben & Jerry’s has left a lasting impact on the world of ice cream and beyond – for better or for worse.

Emma Bates
Emma Bates
Emma is a passionate and innovative food writer and recipe developer with a talent for reinventing classic dishes and a keen eye for emerging food trends. She excels in simplifying complex recipes, making gourmet cooking accessible to home chefs.

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