'Schweddy Balls' ice cream unveiled by Ben and Jerry's

5:14 PM, Sep 8, 2011   |    comments
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MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Ben & Jerry's has Schweddy Balls. Would you like a taste?

Chill out, it's only the name of their new flavor.

 

Schweddy Balls ice cream is an homage to a 13-year-old "Saturday Night Live" skit featuring Alec Baldwin as bakery owner Pete Schweddy, whose unique holiday offerings included a delicacy called Schweddy balls.

The company's not worried about offending people with the name, said spokesman Sean Greenwood.

"We're the caring company," Greenwood said Thursday. "We never want to do anything that is upsetting for people. We think it's congruent with our values, in terms of having fun. One of our principles is `If it's not fun, why do it?"'

Other flavors with edgy names - like Karamel Sutra and Half Baked - were irreverent double-entendres, too, he said.

True. But Schweddy Balls?

The new flavor, which was unveiled Wednesday and is being offered in a "limited batch," consists of vanilla ice cream, a hint of rum, fudge-covered rum balls and milk chocolate malt balls. It's being sold in Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops and supermarkets.

The "SNL" skit, which first aired Dec. 12, 1998, starred Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer as hosts of "Delicious Dish," a National Public Radio program interviewing Baldwin's Pete Schweddy character.

"For a long time, I thought that `Here Lies Pete Schweddy' would end up on my tombstone," Baldwin said in a statement released by South Burlington-based Ben & Jerry's. "Now, thanks to Ben & Jerry's, the goodness of the Schweddy family recipe won't go with me to the great beyond."

The ice cream flavor aims to cash in on the nod-and-a-wink premise of the skit, and on the cache of the show.

Ben & Jerry's, a division of consumer products giant Unilever, has been down this road before. Earlier this year, the ice cream maker came out with "Late Night Snack" with late night comic Jimmy Fallon on the label.

Will consumers bite this time?

Branding expert Allen Adamson said it doesn't matter whether consumers saw or remember the original skit. Hitching the product to Baldwin and "Saturday Night Live" is a smart move, he said.

"Ice cream is closer to a fashion brand than a package good," said Adamson, a managing director of Landor Associates, in New York. The flavor's name will generate conversation and "getting word of mouth, getting buzz, getting interest, excitement is really important."

"SNL" is still a hot show, and Baldwin has become his own brand, he said.

"You don't get noticed today without taking some risks. If you do something that offends no one, you won't get noticed," he said. "If you're going to make a bet, getting connected to `SNL' and Alec Baldwin, there's a lot of upside there."

Gasteyer, for one, has tried the new flavor and likes it.

"I guess you could say I'm nuts for Schweddy Balls," she told The AP. "I don't eat a lot of ice cream anymore, because now I'm a woman in her 40s, so I was just delighted to have the excuse."

NPR never took offense to the original skit and doesn't to the ice cream flavor.

"We definitely laughed along with everyone else," spokeswoman Anna Christopher said. "Everyone here thinks it's really funny."

(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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