Every day, it seems, we’re confronted by reminders that we’re living through times of unprecedented conflict, division, and threat to our future in the U.S., and on this planet. Just last week, leaders on the political left were mailed bomb-laden packages, and a man killed 11 people, including a Holocaust survivor, during services at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27. Underpinning these horrific shocks are more pervasive worries: We’re still not making progress on climate change, and with the midterm elections less than a week away, the country continues to feel fractured.
The most productive way to channel the anxiety that circulates around everything that’s happening: Voting on November 6. But people are, in all honesty, probably doing a fair bit of stress eating to cope, too. In an effort to tie this fairly universal coping mechanism back to political effort, Ben & Jerry’s has released, as of October 30, a new flavor intended to motivate people to take action.
Called Pecan Resist, the flavor is less about the taste (though it is delicious: chocolate ice cream with fudge chunks, almonds, walnuts, and pecans) than it is about the causes it supports. In releasing the flavor, Ben & Jerry’s partnered with four leading social organizations that are each tackling a specific issue in the U.S. The company made a $25,000 donation to each and is encouraging consumers, through the flavor’s packaging and website, to get involved with the organizations.
To address issues of racial inequity, Ben & Jerry’s partnered with Color of Change, a nonprofit that uses both political and social organizing to break down barriers that unjustly bar black people from opportunities. The Women’s March organization, after hosting the historic demonstrations the day after Trump’s inauguration, continues to advocate for women’s rights and mobilize women to create political change. Ben & Jerry’s is also supporting Neta, a fast-growing independent media platform covering the Texas-Mexico border and highlighting the experiences of residents of the region, as well as people attempting to pass through, and Honor the Earth, an indigenous community-led organization advocating for clean energy and environmental protection.
Taking a political stance is not new to Ben & Jerry’s, CEO Matthew McCarthy says. “It’s very consistent with things we’ve been doing for decades now. Fighting to support social justice and marginalized people everywhere has been part of the company’s DNA of what we do.” In 2009, for instance, the company rebranded its Chubby Hubby flavor as Hubby Hubby to support same-sex marriage, and in 2016, it launched EmpowerMint to support voting rights.
In a first for the company, Ben & Jerry’s partnered with the prominent Oakland-based artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez, who has created art for various movements around immigration, women’s rights, and the environment, to design the graphics for the campaign and pints.
But lately, McCarthy says, “so many of the things we’re fighting for has been met with a tide going the opposite direction, and it’s led by the Trump administration. And we don’t like that. I’m just going to be very direct there.”
While many brands and companies are still hesitant to engage in political topics at all, Ben & Jerry’s is quite the opposite. But through this new flavor, McCarthy says, the company is making a statement that while they want their opinion to be known, they want to emphasize the organizations that are doing the work on the ground to resist the Trump administration’s policies. Ben & Jerry’s, and the new flavor, are a means of directing people to those organizations.
“The heart of this campaign is support,” McCarthy says. “It’s about pushing forward the issues that we care about, and supporting the organizations and leaders that are doing that.”