The connection forged between celebrity and commercial products is as deep and intertwined as any in modern capitalism.
As any marketing prof or 10-year-old will tell you, famous people sell stuff. We’ve come to a point in culture where celebrities not only hold up a product and smile, but have a stake in a vast array of products across beauty, technology, health and wellness, fashion, food, and everything in between.
And that’s just Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard . . .
Beyond shilling for a specific brand, the next level is actually having a signature product. Since the mid-80s, this has largely been the domain of athletes and sneakers, but we’ve seen it expand over recent decades into fashion lines and assorted accessories like jewelry and headphones. Even more recently we’ve seen the trend of celebrities buying in or launching their own booze, from Ryan Reynolds’s Aviation Gin and George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila, to Matthew McConaughey’s Longbranch Wild Turkey collab and Walton Goggins’s Mulholland Distillery. Oh, and don’t forget bottled water brought to you by Jaden Smith (Just), Dwayne Johnson (Voss), and Gwyneth Paltrow (Flow).
It appears that we are now entering into a new phase of celebrity signature products, one that combines the scarcity of a limited-edition booze or sneaker, with the massive scale of something everybody loves.
Welcome to celebrity ice cream.
This week two very different arbiters of cool dropped their very own frozen treat collaborations. First up was pop star Selena Gomez, who managed a double dip collaboration, first on a song called . . . yep . . . “Ice Cream” made with K-pop stars Blackpink, and spinning that into her very own flavor for specialty ice-cream brand and chain Serendipity. It’s called Cookies & Cream Remix, and it’s pink vanilla ice cream with crunchy cookie bites and fudge bits.
Then it was Showtime’s late night cool guys Desus and Mero, announcing a new line of Bodega Boys–branded flavors with New York ice cream hot spot OddFellows. The eclectic flavors are inspired by NYC bodega staples, like Baconeggncheese (candied bacon, whipped cheese cream, and candied egg yolks in smoked cream ice cream), Sweet Tea & Lemonade nondairy sorbet, “A Host of Cupcakes” tribute to the Hostess snack cake classic, and Bodega Counter Crunch (chocolate covered pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, and crushed butter crunch cookies in light caramel ice cream).
Trying Baconeggncheese for the first time on-air, Mero said what we’re all thinking, “I was ready for this shit to be foul, but it’s not!” Now we just have to wait for the lactose-challenged pair’s signature line of Lactaids.
The brand is ice cream! We linked up with @oddfellowsNYC to turn your favorite bodega snacks into ice creams! Available in stores & shipping nationwide on https://t.co/ec3VmlkuS0 on August 28 & a portion of all proceeds goes to @legalaidnyc! pic.twitter.com/adiXrUuQXu
— Desus Nice (@desusnice) August 24, 2020
These two deals follow Dwayne Johnson’s high profile investment in Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw back in December, which also coincided with his own holiday-themed signature flavors, including “I Saw Mommy Kissing Dwanta Claus,” a whiskey-flavored ice cream with peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough and a milk chocolate caramel fudge swirl.
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DWANTA’S CUSTOM FLAVORS AVAILABLE NOW IN BIO ???????????? Kicking off our new @saltandstraw partnership with the NEW & DELICIOUS Dwanta Claus ice cream pack for you and your loved ones for these holidays. Best part is a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charity very close to my heart, the MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION. And yes, a Teremana Tequila infused ice cream is already in the future works ???????????? ENJOY! Love, Dwanta ???????? LINK IN MY BIO! @saltandstraw
Ice cream may just be the best possible signature product a celebrity could have. Booze, Goop-y wellness, fashion, sneakers, tech—so many of these are subjective, vulnerable to trends, and/or only ravenously coveted by a micro-cult of fans.
But ice cream? If you created a Venn Diagram of least controversial and most popular products, you’d find this frozen delight right at the center.
We eat ice cream when we’re happy; we eat it when we’re sad. There is no occasion, emotion, mood, meal, or weather condition that can’t be matched with a flavor of ice cream.
So why not celebrity?
Of course, it’s not like this is the first time famous names have been paired with ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s is the OG when it comes to bringing celebrity deli sandwich ethos to frozen desserts, and it wasn’t that long ago that Kendall Jenner was shilling for Magnum (with an awful ad, that became her own special signature).
Signature flavors are simply the next evolution.
As everyone from David Chang to Padma Lakshmi to . . . well, Selena Gomez could tell you, food is one of the best ways to connect with and get to know people. And there is no food more associated with fun than ice cream. Add to that its seemingly endless flavor combo potential (see: baconeggandcheese) and you can see why for any big name it’s a product with almost no downside. Sweatshops? Nope. Rapid trend cycles? Nah. The celebrity ice cream game is as close to fool-proof as possible.