Diving Barenaked into ice cream

A portion of the proceeds (Ben & Jerry's won't say how much) go to the Barenaked Ladies, who in turn are giving all of it to charity. They chose to benefit ABC CANADA (abc-canada.org), a small organization that promotes adult literacy.

The Toronto Star
May 13, 2009

Diving Barenaked into ice cream
Susan Sampson

If they had a million flavours of ice cream, they'd choose a mix of chocolate and vanilla, studded with crunchy bits and a dash of charity.

Yesterday, the Barenaked Ladies launched the new Ben & Jerry's ice cream named after them. At a news conference at the CN Tower, the quartet joked about digging into an ice cream breakfast as they toasted each other with drippy tubs of If I Had 1,000,000 Flavours.

"I was always a bit jealous when I saw rock bands had Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavours," says vocalist and guitar player Ed Robertson.

Ben & Jerry's, based in Vermont, is known for its humour and social conscience. It offers ice cream flavours named after Jerry Garcia, the Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Willie Nelson and even Steven Colbert.

Spokesperson Shoshana Price says that when Ben & Jerry's decided to create a Canadian ice cream, the Barenaked Ladies were the company's No. 1 choice as iconic Canadian musicians.

"We were honoured," says drummer Tyler Stewart. He recently made a rib dinner for friends, and for dessert, ran to the supermarket for ice cream. "I served my own ice cream at my own dinner. I felt like the man."

If I Had 1,000,000 Flavours is marketed as a "collision of chocolate and vanilla ice creams," with tidbits and a free music download tossed in. Stewart says the band put together a list of additions they liked: chocolate-covered toffee for him, chocolate-covered almonds for Robertson, white chocolate chunks for Jim Creeggan and peanut butter cups for Kevin Hearn.

The tasty creation is very Canadian. It's got a bit of everything to please everyone.

"It's kinda like our band," Tyler says. He describes the group as a Canadian "mosaic" with different personalities, ethnicities and even diverse music ranging from tunes for kids to suicide songs.

The ice cream is being distributed in supermarkets coast to coast. Retail prices for a 500-millilitre tub range from $5.99 to $7.99.

A portion of the proceeds (Ben & Jerry's won't say how much) go to the Barenaked Ladies, who in turn are giving all of it to charity. They chose to benefit ABC CANADA (abc-canada.org), a small organization that promotes adult literacy. It is partnered with 400 literacy programs across the country and runs Family Literacy Day, held annually on Jan. 27.

"We were jumping up and down at the office," says president Margaret Eaton, recalling the day they received the news.

She says 3 to 4 per cent of the adult population can't read, while 42 per cent aren't literate at a high school level. Literacy becomes more of a high-profile issue in bad economic times, she adds, when people need skills to survive layoffs and compete for fewer jobs.

The late broadcaster Peter Gzowski first brought the literacy cause to the band's attention. The Ladies fondly remember Gzowski as a big supporter in their early days. "We were just a bunch of punks from Scarborough," Stewart recalls. "Now we're a bunch of dads from the GTA. … We want our kids to read – and we want our kids to get to know their dads."

In true rock-concert style, the quartet arrived late at the CN Tower launch. Tyler says the band was stealing the time from working on a new record.

The Barenaked Ladies became a quartet in February after front man Steven Page left to pursue a solo career. Page had been arrested on a drug charge in New York last July (the charges were later dropped).

"We went through a tough time last year," Stewart says, "but we're absolutely on our feet."

http://www.thestar.com/article/633266


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