Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s have apologized for causing offense by calling a new flavor “Black & Tan” — the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland’s war of independence.
The ice cream, available only in the United States, is based on an ale and stout drink of the same name.
“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.
“Ben & Jerry’s was built on the philosophies of peace and love,” he added.
The Black and Tans, so-called because of their two-tone uniforms, were recruited in the early 1920s to bolster the ranks of the police force in Ireland as anti-British sentiment grew.
They quickly gained a reputation for brutality and mention of the militia still arouses strong feelings in Ireland.
“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 www.junkfoodblog.com.
“I hope they don’t try to launch it here in Ireland or I imagine they’ll lose a lot of their fans.”
Ben & Jerry’s, a unit of Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever Plc, prides itself on its commitment to friendly business. Its mission statement includes a pledge to show “a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.”