Alex Blaze

I'm not about to get me some Hubby Hubby

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 01, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Ben & Jerry's, hubby hubby, ice cream, unilever, Vermont

Vermont started performing same-sex marriages today, and congrats to the couples doing that. As has been reported everywhere in gay new and old media, the Unilever conglomerate's Vermont-based division Ben & Jerry's switched the name of Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby for the month to celebrate the Vermont same-sex weddings.

Not to rain on the parade (but here I go), Ben and Jerry's gained popularity in the 80's and 90's as a liberal, locally-owned, friendly, all-natural ice cream company. Well, in 2000 they got bought up by London-based Unilever. It's a corporate behemoth that's been accused of everything from exploiting racism to sell skin cream in India to increasing deforestation to illegally dumping mercury. If there was ever a corporation that Ben & Jerry's was supposed to be the response to, it was Unilever.

They also imposed their corporate philosophy of increasing shelf-life and decreasing the cost of production on Ben & Jerry's. The ice cream label once known for its simple and pronounceable ingredients list is selling a flavor called "Hubby Hubby" that's made from this:

Ingredients: Cream, Skim Milk, Liquid Sugar, Water, Peanuts, Sugar, Unbleached Wheat Flour, Coconut Oil, Egg Yolks, Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Wheat And Malt Barley Extracts, Corn Oil, Chocolate Liquor, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Milk, Milk Solids, Butter, Natural Flavors, Vanilla Extract, Salt, Guar Gum, Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cocoa, Baking Soda, Yeast, Mono And Diglycerides, Soya Lecithin, Niacin, Iron, Carrageenan, Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate

Mmmmmm, good, all-natural Vermont ingredients like partially hydrogenated soybean oil make Ben & Jerry's ice cream special.

The ingredients themselves aren't all that scary, although I do have problems with the four liquid sweeteners on the list (Liquid Sugar, Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup) and the cheap oils when there's no need (there's none!) for that in ice cream. The emulsifiers and thickeners and surfactants, like Unbleached Wheat Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Guar Gum, Soya Lecithin, and Carrageenan, only make me wonder about how fucked up the texture of the ice cream is now for it to need five chemicals to make it edible again.

What is troublesome about this ingredients list is that it's what Ben & Jerry's used to build their cache, and I'm sure a good deal of their street cred is based on them being a friendly ice cream place instead of just another subsidiary of a food corporation that's more concerned with lowering the cost of human chow instead of a quality product.

Most importantly, I just don't like them trying to co-opt a long struggle by marriage activists in Vermont to pretend like they're a locally owned business (they aren't) or that they're at all concerned with social justice movements while they're selling whitening cream in India. Thank you so much, Unilever, for taking a movement that you wouldn't have given a fuck about 50 years ago and then selling it back to us today. Now that it's chic, now that we've worked hard enough to make it safe for Levi's to put white knots on their mannequins and for American Apparel to sell bizarre T-shirts that say "Legalize Gay" and for every celebrity to show how cool they are by talking about how they support us, Unilever thinks they can use our movement, our struggle, to sell bad ice cream.

OK, I know, we're suppose to be happy that a cool business wants to celebrate same-sex marriage and LGBT rights and stuff, but that's really not the story here. It just seems way to cynical, and makes me way too cynical, to make me feel the gay-friendliness.

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I'm not going to get any Hubby Hubby either, mainly because I tend to avoid ice cream in general, but I wouldn't be so hard on Ben & Jerry's.

Whatever parent company Unilever might be guilty of doing, Ben & Jerry's operates as a subsidiary and still has its headquarters in Vermont, so this was in all likelihood an independent decision by B&J's as opposed to a cynical marketing ploy on the part of Unilever.

Yeah, not cynical at all to me. They've done other props as well that have marginal benefit to marketing.

The celebratory version can't be sold on any store (18 months to revise labels), it will just be handed out in select Ben & Jerry stores, so it's not some enticing profit margin increase.

Certainly not the food for the more radical Vegans/Vegetarians following "the government/corporation is out to poison all of us in tandem with traditional medicine" mindset.

I see it as a cute prop. I like cute props. I like acknowledgment, even if it's late (better than never).

I still prefer Parmalat for my ice cream cravings (that Nutella flavor is divine).

No matter what parade is going on, there's always someone at Bilerico to come piss on it.

I am sure this doesn't have a thing to do with the general distaste you have for gay marriage.

Have you compared the ingredients in B&Js to the ingredients in the heyday? I don't think they are much different.

I'll admit that B&J's ingredients have changed dramatically. (Remember when the ingredients list for the vanilla ice cream used to be "Cream, milk, vanilla beans"?

But I had to laugh at your parade comment about negative posts. It does seem that way sometimes, doesn't it? Oh, the drawbacks for allowing everyone their opinion, eh? At least I did a positive post yesterday! Where's my damn kudos for being positive, Chuck?! :)

It seems kind of unreasonable to complain that an ice cream with pretzels in it also includes wheat flour.