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Jan Lee headshot

New Ben & Jerry's Flavor Nods to Presidential Pick

Words by Jan Lee

Next summer, when Bernie Sanders supporters dig into their pint of newly-minted Ben & Jerry's ice cream, they may get a special treat: the vicarious joy of tasting Sanders' socio-economic success at work.

'Bernie's Yearning,' Ben Cohen's proposed flavor for his presidential pick, was dreamed up by the ice cream founder to reflect Sanders' often-quoted summary of the woes of the 21st-century American economy. This twist on mint chocolate chip puts all that rich chocolate goodness, right at the top in a single disc with luscious-but-lonely plain mint below.

"You've got the top 400 Americans owning more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. Most folks do not think that is right."

And true that is, the polls tell us. Even if Hillary Clinton has been leading in her campaign as Democratic contender against Sanders, that grip is becoming more tenuous -- slipping from 20 percentage points six months ago, to a mere six in recent weeks.

But when it comes to ice cream and the enticement of chocolate, well, there's the real gauge of a candidate's substance, especially when it comes to deep symbolism built into the first layer.

"You take your spoon and you whack that big chocolate disc into little pieces and mix it around," Cohen explained as he described both the creation of proper mint chip and socio-economic equality. "There you have it, Bernie's Yearning."

The nice thing about ice cream is that it's hard to go wrong with conventional, everyday flavors, especially when it comes to mint and chocolate. According to Rasmussen Reports, the U.S. public is evenly split over chocolate and vanilla when it comes to what works best as a desert. Twenty-three percent chose one or the other in a 2011 poll, while another 6 percent raised their spoon for mint chocolate chip. Tailoring a mint ice cream adorned with a generous disc of chocolate at its crown is probably a tailor-made top seller. Unless, of course, your clientele frequents Trump Twitter sessions. And even there it can't really lose.

But I do find myself wondering how the top 10 percent of society turned out to be symbolized by chocolate. It's one of those esoteric ponderings that one's prone to late at night when there's no ice cream in the house. Whites still hold the majority of the wealth in this country, and unfortunately, by a large stretch.  According to Pew Research, in 2013 the ratio of wealth between whites and Hispanics was 10.3 to 1. Between whites and blacks, it was even worse: 12.9 to 1. And despite the awareness of poverty in this country and social improvements made since the recession of 2008, it's a racial divide that just keeps getting worse.

So, I return to my question: Why chocolate? Why not white chocolate, amaretto or plain ol' vanilla?

The answer, of course, is simple: Chocolate sells. At $20.1 billion, the 2013 U.S. sales tally was more than the GDP of Brazil in 2014, South America's second-largest producer of cacao. And when Sanders wins that Democratic candidacy -- if he wins -- chocolate, with its rich, tantalizing popularity, will be just the thing to celebrate an initial victory before the long, much tougher stretch for the White House.

I'll have my spoon poised, Bernie.

 Images: Marc Nozell; The Integer Club

Jan Lee headshotJan Lee

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

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