"Banana ice cream with fudge chunks and walnuts" is quite a mouthful—not just to eat, but also to pronounce. Lucky for us, in 1987 a student at the University of New Hampshire invented a more concise moniker for it: Chunky Monkey.
Susan Aprill was a college junior when she brainstormed not only the name, but also the recipe itself, and handed her idea over to the world-famous Ben & Jerry's. In return, Ben & Jerry's promised her a lifetime of free ice cream. Aprill received a picture ID that entitles her anywhere, any time to a free pint, any flavor.
She also got her picture in the National Enquirer, and she was nearly dragged into court during a comedy of lawsuits and countersuits in which a cartoonist, who is now dead, claimed that Ben & Jerry's stole the idea from a monkey the cartoonist had drawn with the same name.
More than 20 years later, coffee is Aprill's favorite flavor of ice cream. "I don't like ice cream with chunks in it, and I'm not crazy about bananas either, to tell you the truth," she says. The rest of the world is, however. People occasionally ask Aprill to autograph pint cartons, and Chunky Monkey ranks perennially among Ben & Jerry's best-selling varieties. It's currently No. 4.
"One time I met a guy who fell on the ground and kissed my feet," explains Aprill, now an archivist at a library in Kingston, Massachusetts. "He was saying, 'Thank you, thank you! It's my favorite flavor!' It's just a really funny thing. I've put it on my resume, and I know I've gotten interviews because of it."
Free ice cream, greater employability, quasi-celebrity status—now these very same blessings could be yours thanks to The Farmer's Cow, eastern Connecticut's family-farm dairy cooperative, which plans to launch its own line of ice cream this spring. The company has invited the public to name its 10 flavors. The contest is open until February 14, when a random drawing will determine one lucky winner who will get a summer's worth of ice cream.
Give The Farmer's Cow credit. This is a great marketing move. After all, half the fun of eating Ben & Jerry's comes in sampling as many varieties as possible from their long list of clever names like Cherry Garcia, Phish Food, and Mission to Marzipan. I know I've definitely bought a few extra pints over the years for no other reason than to mark off a few more flavors on my checklist. Why can't the same gimmick work for The Farmer's Cow?
I plan to try all ten Connecticut flavors, and—who knows—maybe if I can think up just the right name for them, I can get myself on Wikipedia like Susan Aprill did. So when I called Aprill this week, I asked for some ice-cream-naming wisdom.
Her advice? "The best ones are puns," she said. Examples might be Ben & Jerry's "Imagine Whirled Peace" (caramel and sweet cream ice creams swirled with fudge peace signs and toffee cookie pieces) or "Jamaican Me Crazy" (pineapple sorbet with a passion fruit swirl). Chunky Monkey, she said, "was the first one that rhymed. I think that's why people liked it so much. It just sounds so good, and it really described what was actually in it."
But, she warned, don't overthink it. Just let it happen. When she named Chunky Monkey, "it was one of those things that just fell through the air and into my head."
Never one to take advice, I've spent far too many hours these last few days thinking this to death. At last, below are my official entries in The Farmer's Cow Ice Cream Naming Contest. I've tried to respect the company's wishes by including references to farming, and I've even incorporated the names of some dairy breeds. Susan, there are plenty of puns, one rhyme, and a lot of alliteration. And, I almost forgot…heads up, Farmer's Cow, because there might be a couple trademark issues in there. You probably should run these by your lawyers.
1. Vanilla — "Not-so-Plain Vanilla"
2. Coffee — "Calf-einated"
3. Chocolate — "Brown Swiss Udder Bliss"
4. Cookies & cream — "Holstein Hash"
5. Strawberry — "Strawberry Fields Forever"
6. Mint chocolate chip — "Magic Moo-Mint" (or "Peppermint Cow Patty")
7. Chocolate chocolate chip — "Cow Chip Bingo"
8. Black raspberry chocolate chip — "Purple Pastures"
9. Peanut butter cup — "Milking Parlor Peanut Butter Pie"
10. Cherry vanilla — "Dairy Garcia"
For the cherry on top, I've also coined a slogan that Farmer's Cow might as well use for their whole dang line: "If You Share Yours, Ayrshire Mine." You're welcome.