Rolling Stone Weighs in on Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream

Peachy Keen

Oh happy day! Ben & Jerry are presenting us with a whole new flavor to drool over. Yes folks, today marks the street date for Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler (peach ice cream with cinnamon sugar shortbread pieces). With the new creation, Willie joins the ranks of progressive pop culture icons Jerry Garcia, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Wavy Gravy and, most recently, Stephen Colbert, all of whom have been awarded their very own tailor-made ice cream flavors.

The question on hardcore ice cream enthusiasts’ minds (besides “where’s a spoon?”) is: Do Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (the founding fathers of the Vermont-based ice cream empire) actually decide who’s worthy of a flavor themselves? And perhaps more importantly, who determines that Jerry Garcia’s namesake batch consists of cherries and fudge flakes while Wavy Gravy’s concoction is caramel, cashew and Brazil nut ice cream? When you think of Trey Anastasio, is chocolate ice cream with “gooey” marshmallow, caramel and fudge really what comes to mind? We took it upon ourselves to find out the answers to these probing questions so that you could spend less time pondering them and more time eating Peach Cobbler while rocking out to “I Gotta Get Drunk.”

We talked to Sean Greenwood, a spokesperson at Ben ; Jerry’s corporate offices in South Burlington, Vermont, who told us that artists are deemed flavor-worthy on the basis of their humanitarian efforts. The more do-good, environment-friendly, help-the-kids-in-Africa stuff you have on your resume, the better the chance that the folks at B&J will consider you for your very own ice cream. According to Greenwood, Ben’s and Jerry’s personal musical tastes have nothing to do with it. So banish those visions of the burly guys concocting ice cream flavors while listening intently to their iPods. Greenwood tells us that tasty collaborations have come about in all sorts of ways. Hippie icon Wavy Gravy, for example, was an obvious inspiration for the Vermont duo because of Wavy’s association with Woodstock. After all, says Greenwood, “Ben and Jerry are hippie guys [that] grew up in that peace love kind of time.” Cherry Garcia was originally conceived by a female Deadhead in Maine who wanted to express her love for the Dead and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. She mailed her idea for the name in to Ben & Jerry’s home office on an ice cream lid, and the B&J masterminds jumped on it. Phish Food was more of a neighborly gesture, says Greenwood, recounting the tale of how Cohen leaned over his back fence one day — his backyard was adjacent to Phish headquarters in Vermont — and thought, “Hey, maybe we should think about doing a flavor…” Too bad Ben’s neighbor at the time wasn’t Britney Spears; we might have had a delicious Nutty White (Trash) Chocolate flavor to enjoy.

Ben & Jerry (the company) always come up with flavor prototypes before formally approaching people they want to collaborate with, but the artists have the final say when it comes to the name and core ingredients of the ice cream that they think will best represent them in the freezer aisle. Apparently, Stephen Colbert thought he was more of a waffle cone guy kind of a guy when he veto-ed a cinnamon bun flavor for his American Dream ice cream. When Jerry Garcia was asked how he felt about cherry for his flavor, he allegedly said, “As long as they’re not naming a motor oil after me, I’m fine.” Willie’s flavor took after the Southern style peach dessert because, according to Greenwood, “Willie is a downhome Texan Americana guy.” When they floated the peach idea by Mr. Nelson, his response was appropriately laid-back: “Groovy!” he reportedly drawled.Sadly, there are no new collaborations on the horizon at this time, although apparently B&J has been approached by “artists from the top twenty rock and roll bands ever” — whomever they may be — to create flavors named after them. Our humble guesses? Peanut Butter and Pearl Jam, or possibly Tropical John Melon-Camp. (We won’t be quitting our day jobs.) Greenwood does tell us that Ben & Jerry’s sent gratis ice cream to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler last year when he was having throat surgery with a note wishing him a quick recovery. Apparently names such as Sweet Emotion and Living on the Fudge were discussed. Now that’s an idea good enough to eat! 


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