About a week and a half ago, Ben & Jerry's announced its most recent ice cream flavor. No, it wasn't the "Lauren Ober's Chocolate River of Salaciousness and Sin," which is where I thought they were going. The newest flavor in the B&J family — Maple Blondie — is actually named after Hannah Teter, Olympic Gold Medalist and all around swell shredder. I suppose grabbing some Olympic bling on the halfpipe in Torino '06 is somewhat more impressive than winning third place in the 2005 New York Newspaper Publishers Association feature writing contest (circulation 25,000 or less). But I better be next on the list.
Photo at right — Teter going big at Mt. Snow last season. Courtesy of Burton Snowboards.
In having a flavor named after her, the 22-year-old snowboarder joins the ranks of Phish, Dave Matthews and Jerry Garcia, all of whom have had their essences rendered in pints of Ben & Jerry's deliciousness. But Teter has one-upped them all. Not only is she the first athlete ever to have a flavor named after her, but she is the first woman and first native Vermonter. Belmont, Vermont's most famous daughter now has another thing to brag about — being immortalized in ice cream.
Maple Blondie, which is only available now in scoop shops, but will soon be available in pints, is the type of flavor I always dreamed of. Maple ice cream, laced with ribbons of maple caramel and studded with blonde brownie bits. The overall effect is somewhere between orgasm and nirvana.
Because maple syrup — or liquid gold, as I like to think of it — is absurdly expensive, Maple Blondie is being made in limited batches. That's the bad news. But here's the good news: part of the proceeds from Teter's signature flavor will go to benefit Hannah's Gold, a charity Teter started to help the village of Kirindon, Kenya, secure clean drinking water.
I chatted with our girl Tetes last week over the phone about Africa, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and how I was on her mind when she developed Maple Blondie.
Seven Days: Hey Hannah! How are you?
Hannah Teter: Great! Just driving to the gym.
SD: Where are you now?
HT: In Tahoe right now.
SD: What are you doing at the gym?
HT: I am going to get my workout on!
SD: I was just having a conversation yesterday about whether world-class snowboarders go to the gym or whether you just, like, ride all day long.
HT: Some workout, some just ride. But I feel like there’s a big transition going on right now where a lot of the riders are starting to taking working out more seriously to be super strong.
SD: I’m sure it’s, like, getting way more competitive, too.
HT: Yeah, for sure. It’s just that little difference if your legs are stronger than the next person’s and you get a little more air, it can make the difference.
SD: But none of that has anything to do with ice cream, although, I don’t know — maybe you have to exercise away the ice cream.
HT: Yeah, I was just going say that I was just going to work off the ice cream.
SD: So tell me how Maple Blondie came to be. And congratulations, by the way. That’s a really cool honor.
HT: Yeah, I don’t know. They just called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in having my own flavor and designing it and being part of the process. And I was like, Heck yeah! (Laughs) And I asked them if we could focus it around the charity and make that the main centerpiece for the whole thing and they were into that. So it was a match made in heaven.
SD: There are a lot of amazing athletes out there and they were like, We want Hannah Teter. What do you think was the impetus for that? Did they tell you why they picked you?
HT: Well, they said they wanted a Vermonter athlete and um, somebody who is sort of a cool role model/spokesperson and I guess I just fit the piece. And they wanted to do something around maple syrup and it fit into the charity because, you know, we sell maple syrup for Kenya.
They were telling me that I’m the first woman, first athlete, first Vermonter. It’s a lot of firsts for them. At first they weren’t sure if it was just going to be in scoop shops. But then I went in and I met everybody and I met Jerry and then all the sudden they were like, 'Oh, we’ll give you a pint and we’ll put your picture on it.' And I was like, 'Whoa!' So it’s kind of evolved to be bigger than either of us expected.
Glamor shot courtesy of Burton Snowboards.
SD: How did the process play out? Did they ask you what your ideal flavor would be?
HT: Yeah, I went in and did some taste-testing with my mom and a couple of friends. We knew it was going to be a maple flavor and there were all different types of maple, super-sweet, not that sweet. And we kind of just picked the one that everybody liked. And that was the flavor we went with.
SD: It sort of seems like my dream ice cream. I can’t think of anything better. Like I think you might have made it for me.
HT: (Laughs) Yeah, that was our goal.
SD: To make it just for me? You were like, I want Lauren to be happy and eat all the ice cream.
HT: We just wanted you to dream about it every night and wake up and just need it.
SD: We did a story a couple of months ago about the process of ice cream-making at Ben & Jerry’s and it’s pretty cool how a flavor comes together. What was your experience of the process and how they were able to take your ideas and make something tangible?
HT: They just went off of the fact that I wanted it to be slightly healthy. And I tried to make it organic, but for some reason they wouldn’t go there. So I was just like, 'Make it with real maple syrup and make it yummy.' And they came up with crazy brownie chunks and maple swirl and just all this cool stuff that just exploded off of my small feedback.
SD: What do you think of the end result?
HT: I love it! (Laughs) I don’t have a big sugartooth, but when I take a bite of that I’m like, 'Oooh, that’s kind of too good.' I don’t want to put it down. Yeah, but we wanted to make it slightly addicting because part of the proceeds go to the Kenyan kids.
SD: Tell us a little about the charity, Hannah’s Gold.
HT: We started it after the last Olympics. It was an idea I had since I was a small child about wanting to help out in the world. I’ve always felt the need to try to change the world in a really positive way and that’s how Hannah’s Gold came about. And then the syrup, I made maple syrup with my family and it was a huge outing that we would always do. So we’ve got the syrup and we’re expanding. We’ve got the organic sweatbands and I’m coming out with underwear later on.
Sick shredding shot courtesy of Burton Snowboards.
SD: What is the focus of the charity work in Kenya?
HT: Well right now we’re working on equipping the whole village — 70,000 people— with clean drinking water because there really isn’t any. But we’ve been doing a real good job, drilling wells and boreholes and installing rainwater catchment systems.
Then most recently, when we went there last October, we met up with an HIV/AIDS support group and asked what we could do to help them out, so we’re building them a center and buying land for them. And help with farming initiatives, supply farmers with tools and seeds and organic fertilizers. And bicycles for families because they have to walk miles to get places.
SD: So you’ve got the ice cream going now. What’s on tap for the season? Obviously, the Olympics must be on your mind.
HT: Oh, yeah. I’ve got my first qualifier coming up in a couple weeks. And that’s going to be the main thing this year — qualifying for the Olympics and going to Vancouver, representing once again.
SD: What’s the competition like for qualifying this year?
HT: It’s big, I think. The U.S. has the most competition for both guys and girls. Some of the other countries have it easy — they’ve only got a couple of riders. But the U.S. just has so many talented snowboarders. There are just a lot of shredders, so we’ll see what happens.
SD: Well, thanks for chatting with us and good luck with everything.
HT: Thank you. Ciao.