IT was once simply a seaside treat or an occasionak dessert, but in this modern world, it seems ice cream has become political; specifically, the frozen fare of Ben & Jerry’s.


Ben & Jerry’s?

Formed by childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield back in 1978 in Vermont, US firm Ben & Jerry's makes ice cream, frozen yoghurt and sorbets. Its most popular flavours worldwide include Cookie Dough, Chocolate Chip Brownie and Cherry Garcia.


It’s an ice cream icon?

Sold to British conglomerate Unilever in 2000, figures show that in the US alone last year, it remained the leading ice cream brand, with more than 403 million units sold.


It’s political?

Its UK Twitter feed has been relentless in recent days, calling for people to protest against the British Government's plans to deport refugees to Rwanda, with a number of Tweets calling for action, including one on Thursday saying: "It's time to take to the streets. Let's show our leaders that as caring people we want an asylum system rooted in kindness and compassion, not cruelty and hostility.”


Any others?

Another tweet read: “Listen up folks ‘cos we need to talk about Priti Patel’s ‘ugly’ Rwanda plan and what this means. Most people are kind and compassionate, right?  Yet our Government’s plan to forcibly send people to a country thousands of miles away, simply for seeking refuge in the UK, is cruel and morally bankrupt.”


Is this a new path?

No, the ice cream brand has been dipping its toe in political waters more and more. In July last year, Ben & Jerry’s - which has its own board despite the Unilever purchase - said it would halt sales in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, saying it was “inconsistent with our values” for the products to be sold in the areas.


What happened?

The move sparked a backlash including divestments by some US pension funds and the board said in February that it was working toward determining a "new arrangement" for sales in Israel before the end of the year. Unilever CEO Alan Jope said: "Our absolute focus right now is to figure out what the new arrangement will be for Ben & Jerry’s.”


It doesn’t end there?

Ben & Jerry's often speaks up on political and social matters. Also in February, the US brand tweeted that the decision of President Joe Biden to send troops to Europe "in response to Russia's threats against Ukraine only fans the flame of war.” Unilever said earlier this year Ben & Jerry’s “is a great brand” with “a great track record of campaigning on important issues” but Hope said that “on subjects where Unilever brands don't have the expertise or credibility, we think it's best that they stay out of the debate.”


What’s the response?

GB News presenter, Colin Brazier, tweeted: "Stir your ice cream, rake up profits. If unhappy, stand for election. Otherwise, take your sweet-tooth-funded platform and stick it where the sun don't shine.” Another tweeted: “Isn't it weird how corporations became lecturers on Societal Politics? Seems they all do it now. Why?” But some were on board, saying: “Surely we are all part of this society….and politics affects every aspect of it. Therefore we are all allowed an opinion?”