Mort Laitner
Mort Laitner

The Ice Cream Wars

“Hey Mort, what’s all this clamor I hear about this Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.”

“Well Buddy, there’s this British corporation, Unilever—which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol UL, selling for $58.69 a share (Full disclosure to readers: I have already sold my considerable block of UL shares) that years ago bought an iconic American ice cream company called, Ben & Jerry’s.”

“Mort, everybody has eaten Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. If I may say so, it’s pretty good stuff, especially that Cherry Garcia flavor. It’s a bit expensive but they have a high butterfat percentage, high-grade chocolates, fresh nuts and berries.

I watch as Buddy runs his tongue over his lips, and listen as he says, “I’ve got a craving for a Ben and Jerry’s cone right now.

You know, I even took my wife and kids to their museum and country store in Vermont. We tasted a whole bunch of flavors in those white paper sampler cups: Strawberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Fudge Brownies, Phish Food and Half-Baked. I still remember those wooden cut-out black and white cows grazing in the fields around the store. I still got my tie dye Ben and Jerry’s T-shirt. It’s a trippy, psychedelic explosion of reds, yellows, blues, oranges and purples and my refrigerator magnet, which reads: “Not Made by West Bank Settlers.”

“Well, these two nice Jewish boys from New York State created Ben & Jerry’s way back in 1978. These boychicks, these phishers, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are two quirky, fun-loving hippies, that start selling “Vermont’s Finest” ice cream out of an abandoned gas station in Burlington. These marketing geniuses gave their ice creams flavors funny names—i.e. Chunky Monkey. And lo and behold, after a number of years, B and J goes global.”

“Mort, ya know your right, I’ve eaten their ice cream in Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv.”

Well, 43 years after its creation, Unilever pulls its pints of heavenly sweetness from the grocery shelves in Israel’s West Bank settlements.”

“Why is Unilever pulling this kinda crap?

Don’t they realize that political acts have financial consequences?

Don’t they know that Jews eat a ton of ice cream?”

“Well, a whole bunch of pro-Palestinians—living in Vermont— threatened to harm their business if they didn’t go full blown BDS on Israel and Unilever caved and compromised. They said, “Jews you can sell and buy Ben and Jerry’s in Israel but not in the settlements.”

“WTF! Damn Brits.

Mort, I just got a frightening picture in my head. I imagined of one of those black and white Holsteins grazing and munching on sweet New England grass, puking her guts out when she learns that Israeli settlers ain’t eating her creamy ice cold delights.

“Buddy, that’s a real scary image.”

“But Mort, since we’re two quirky and fun-loving hippie Zionists, how do we fight this existential threat to the Jewish State.”

“Well, I’ve given this problem some deep thought and here’s what I recommend:

Remember the big picture. B&J is just one small company in the huge Unilever conglomerate.

Remember small fries hook small fish from the piers.

And the big phishers take their boats out to sea for the big catch.

So if we want  to be effective, we must fish with the big guys, send a message to all 400 Unilever divisions. We must focus on the conglomerate’s 400 products: Hellman’s Mayonaise, Lipton, Knorr,  Axe, Lifebuoy, Ponds, Lux, Dove, Pepsodent, Noxzema, Suave and Vasoline. For those that are actively participating in this economic battle, look for the UL “U” shaped logo on all of its products—not to be confused with circle around the “U” found on kosher products.)

Folks when shopping always remember that Nestlé and Proctor and Gamble products are there to fulfill your needs. I know you can live without Unilever products—maybe be not the Hellman’s.

Always follow the money. If UL’s stock prices fall— their executives lose compensation as well as their jobs. That will teach them not to mess with the Zohan.

Learn you enemy’s history. I read on the internet that Unilever has a sordid past. They have been accused of using forced and child labor and of shooting rubber bullets at its workers on strike, and they severely underpay their workers worldwide. To top it off, they even sold Nigeria to British colonizers in the late 19th century.

“Well Mort, Unilever has a lot of gall. With that history, they ain’t no angels.

But that’s one-hell-of-a-good plan you’ve created for this sticky problem.

I know if people follow your plan, those West Bank settlers will be licking Ben and Jerry’s, “Spank Your Monkey” ice cream all summer long.

“Sorry Buddy, it’s called “Chunky Monkey.”

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort is a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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