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Irish-Themed Flavor Serves Up a Bloody Sundae

Local Matters


Published April 25, 2006 at 5:59 p.m.

SOUTH BURLINGTON -- When Ben & Jerry's launched its new, beer-themed Black & Tan ice cream in March, the Vermont-based company issued a press release inviting customers to "toast St. Patrick's Day with a frosty pint . . . of ice cream!"

But an article in the April 20 edition of the Belfast Telegraph reports that the name of the Ben & Jerry's flavor has "caused outrage among consumers in the Republic."

That's because many on the Emerald Isle still recall the brutality of British soldiers, known as the Black and Tans, who served in an irregular police force in Ireland from 1920 until 1922, during the country's war for independence. The notorious troops were memorialized in a song called "Come Out Ye Black and Tans." The chorus goes: "Oh, come out you Black and Tans. Come out and fight me like a man."

Some of these troops were reported to have taken part in the 1920 Bloody Sunday killings. Not to be confused with the 1972 Bloody Sunday slayings in Derry, memorialized in the U2 song, this slaughter claimed 12 lives at a football match in Dublin.

The famously socially conscious ice cream maker was apparently unaware of this connection. Ben & Jerry's merely meant to invoke the popular drink that mixes stout and ale. The Unilever-owned company has issued an apology to its Irish and Irish-American customers, and says any reference to the British soldiers was "absolutely unintentional."

Curiously, the apology is not posted on the Ben & Jerry's Ireland website.