A report by Steve Baltin for Forbes.
The night of the horrific Manchester bombing at the Ariana Grande concert (May 22) a press event was already scheduled in Los Angeles to celebrate the launch of Ben & Jerry’s One Love, a banana-flavored ice cream with graham cracker swirls and fudge peace signs named in honor of reggae icon Bob Marley.
Held at the iconic Roxy, the event featured a performance from Marley’s son Ziggy, a kids’ choir to highlight the ice cream’s philanthropic component – which benefits the Bob Marley One Love Youth Camp — and, of course, samples of the ice cream.
The relationship between Ben & Jerry’s and music is nothing new. The company, of course, came to fame in part with Cherry Garcia, created 30 years ago as a tribute to the late Grateful Dead guitarist. Then over the years they have partnered with or celebrated such musical heroes as Willie Nelson, Elton John, Dave Matthews and more.
But while these partnerships are not new, they remain very exclusive to some of music’s most iconic brands. I spoke with Ziggy Marley and Jerry Greenfield about the ice cream and how to go on with an event about positivity already scheduled when the chaos of the world interjects.
Steve Baltin: Is it now hard to get excited for an event like this?
Ziggy Marley: That’s the whole motive, to get you down, but we have to stay up.
Jerry Greenfield: We were talking about that too, that this message of One Love is more important, more relevant than ever. The idea of people being together, love and social justice, it’s needed more than ever.
Marley: They cannot stop it, they cannot stop the positive, they cannot stop it. They try and they try and try, but One Love Ben & Jerry ice cream, they cannot stop it (laugh).
Baltin: Where did the idea originally come from?
Greenfield: I think the idea initially came last year from Ben & Jerry’s in the U.K. The idea coming to team with the Marley family and the Bob Marley Foundation because of the values and the legacy of Bob Marley and the idea of equality and people working together just seemed like such a good fit for Ben & Jerry’s because the company has tried to espouse those values. So the flavor was out last year and I think we were all so happy with it that we wanted to bring it here.
Marley: I’ve been a fan of Ben & Jerry’s for a long time before even this was happening. I always kind of felt like [there was] something about them that was different. I didn’t even know if Ben & Jerry was real (crack up). So then I met Jerry today so I know they’re real. But I always felt like there’s something behind it, there’s something about this brand that’s more than, “Here’s some ice cream, eat some ice cream.” There’s something there so I felt there was a camaraderie there that made it a good partnership for us.
Baltin: Jerry, could you have ever imagined as a music fan that one day you’d be working with Bob Marley’s family?
Greenfield: No, this is amazing. Music is this wonderful vehicle and powerful thing, then when you combine it with the message, the heart, the love, that comes through, it’s transcendent. And to be able to connect with that, along with a delicious ice cream, which is, in its own funny little way, more than just food. It’s a very emotional thing for people and I think to be able to have music and ice cream is a really nice way to reach people, to have us all understand that we’re all part of something bigger.
Baltin: It’s true I guess. I had never thought of it that way, but ice cream is comfort food. That’s why in so many movies there is the cliché scene of eating ice cream after a breakup.
Greenfield: We were voted best breakup ice cream, Chocolate Therapy.
Marley: I love ice cream, whatever flavor. I really like this flavor. We had to talk about this, we had to have a little input, we couldn’t just leave Jerry and Ben to it.
Baltin: Talk about the relationship between the company and the family.
Greenfield: I met Ziggy’s kids briefly and we’re working on trying to get the kids to Vermont during the summer to bring them to the ice cream factory and seeing if they can work on coming up with their own flavor, small test batch. It’s not ready to go to market yet.
Baltin: What makes this flavor special?
Greenfield: It’s amazing, you can’t really find a banana ice cream.
Marley: And then there are little [chocolate] peace signs in there too. It’s a simple thing, but you don’t know how significant that can be. A child eating an ice cream can see that, “Oh, daddy, what’s this thing?” “Oh, it’s a peace sign.” Then discussions start, explanations, so these things can be more than a simple ice cream.