Ben & Jerry's Lin-Sanity Gaffe

Ben & Jerry's is the latest company to join Lin-Sanity and face criticism. The company created a new frozen yogurt flavor to celebrate basketball star Jeremy Lin, "Taste The Lin-Sanity," featuring lychee honey and fortune cookie pieces. The ice cream is being sold in Harvard Square, but Ben & Jerry's has since removed the cookies from the mix. Ben&Jerry's

Ryan Midden, the general manager of Ben & Jerry's in the Boston area, told,

"There seemed to be a bit of an initial backlash about it, but we obviously weren't looking to offend anybody, and the majority of the feedback about it has been positive."

Midden also said that the fortune cookies were removed primarily because they got soggy.

Ben & Jerry's offered this official apology:

"We are proud and honored to have Jeremy Lin hail from one of our fine, local universities, and we are huge sports fans. We were swept up in the nationwide Linsanity momentum. Our intention was to create a flavor to honor Jeremy Lin's accomplishments and his meteoric rise in the NBA, and recognize that he was a local Harvard graduate. We try to demonstrate our commitment as a Boston-based, valued-led business and  if we failed in this instance, we offer our sincere apologies."

As in its recent complaint against ESPN, The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) offered advice. This time, the AAJA sent a "Media Advisory on Jeremy Lin News Coverage." The advisory warns against "factual inaccuracies about Lin's background as well as an alarming number of references that rely on stereotypes about Asians or Asian Americans" and cautions news organizations to "Stop to think: Would a similar statement be made about an athlete who is Caucasian, African American, Latino or Native American?" The statement also provides useful information about stereotypes to avoid.

Deadspin further explained:

"Also, 'Taste The Lin-Sanity' features lychee, which is a fruit native to Southeast Asia, which is not the part of Asia that Jeremy Lin comes from. (The part of Asia that Jeremy Lin comes from is Northern California.)"

Discussion Starters:

  • How do you assess Ben & Jerry's initial attempt at "Lin-Sanity" and the apology? What's your view of the situation?
  • How does this situation compare to the recent ESPN comments related to Jeremy Lin?
  • Read the AAJA's advice to the media. Which suggestions do you find useful, and which, if any, should be obvious?