The Flavor That Caused Ben & Jerry's To Apologize To All Of Ireland

When it comes to taking risks with flavors, Ben & Jerry's is truly the daredevil of ice cream brands. Although it's well-known for classic flavors like Half Baked and Chocolate Fudge Brownie, did you know that Phish Food (featuring chocolate fish and marshmallows) and Cherry Garcia (cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes) were in its top 10 flavors of 2021 (via Ben & Jerry's)? But that's just the tip of the ice (cream) berg. Among the unique Ben & Jerry's flavors are an Old-Hollywood ginger ice cream, a plum holiday flavor that was a flop, and a raisin-filled pint.

And while there's no reward without a bit of risk, there have been times when Ben & Jerry's took its experiments a little too far. In general, the brand takes social responsibility seriously and is known for its efforts to support Greenpeace, the Vietnam Veterans of America, and more, according to Forbes. In 2020, HuffPost recognized the company for its commitment to equality and sustainability, dating back to 1988 in a mission statement by the founders. But although Ben & Jerry's has become a standout beacon of political activism in many ways, one flavor missed the mark and left it shrouded in controversy.

A sweet pint brings up a dark past

The flavor in question, Black & Tan, sounds innocent enough: It's a cream stout ice cream swirled with chocolate ice cream, encapsulated in a sleek black pint. Ben & Jerry's says it was intended to taste like stout and pale ale, which combine to make a popular drink in U.K. pubs. However, the flavor's release immediately brought up a darker backstory. Irish customers were quick to point out that "Black and Tan" was the nickname for a British military force that committed atrocities during the Irish War of Independence, which ran from 1919 to 1921, according to Military History Now.

Black and Tan, who got their name from their uniform colors, are arguably best known for participating in Bloody Sunday in 1920, when they killed or injured 72 Irish citizens watching a football game in Dublin (via Britannica). They also torched Irish houses, looted pubs, burned down a factory, and more, according to Military History Now.

Unsurprisingly, Ben & Jerry's ended up apologizing to Irish consumers. "Any reference on our part to the British Army unit was absolutely unintentional, and no ill-will was ever intended," a representative told The Irish Times. But the name wasn't the only complaint — some customers also lamented how the beer-inspired flavor didn't contain any actual beer, according to The Guardian. While one complaint may have a bit more legs than the other, it's safe to say Black & Tan is a flavor best left retired.